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Patents are classified according to the International Patent Classification (IPC). The International Patent Classification is based on an international multilateral treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). According to the IPC classification, an invention is assigned to an IPC-class by its function or intrinsic nature, or by its field of application. The IPC is therefore a combined function-application classification system in which the function takes precedence. A patent may contain several technical objects and therefore be designated to several IPC-classes. The IPC is structured into sections, classes, sub-classes, groups and sub-groups. However, data in the EPO (European Patent Office) collection is available at IPC section and class level only. For further details on the IPC classification visit the WIPO web site at http://www.wipo.int/.

Source: Patent applications to the EPO by priority year at the national level by IPC sections and classes

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