The search in classified patent collections is recognised as a major pillar of the whole patent granting process. Harmonisation of the classification schemes and practices among the Trilateral Offices contributes substantially to the efficiency of the search process and is a prerequisite to a further harmonisation in search and examination procedures.

In the circumstances that the patent documents of the Five Offices occupy most part of those published in the whole world, it is necessary to secure the cooperation not only among the Trilateral Offices but also among the Five Offices for the purpose of enabling efficient and high-quality patent searching.

The goal of the Trilateral Working Group on Classification (the "Working Group") is:

  • to increase harmonisation between the trilateral classification systems;
  • to foster classification in general and trilateral classification harmonisation in particular in order to support the patent granting process and make it more efficient;
  • to enhance the dialogue among the Five Offices towards the development of classification that should be shared by the Five Offices;
  • to reduce the classification workload of the Trilateral Offices by avoiding the duplication of (re)classification activities;
  • to extend the coverage of classified patent collections in each internal system in harmonised areas with the goal to make all PCT minimum documents available for search in each Trilateral Office;
  • to ensure that changes in technology are properly and rapidly reflected in trilateral and IPC classification schemes so as to enable an efficient search and classified retrieval of patent documents.