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How does the patent classification system work?

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The United States Patent and Trademark Office organizes filed patent applications and issued patents through an electronic classification system. There are three broad subject matter areas which further consist of classes and subclasses: Utility (devoted to technology), Plant (devoted to any asexually reproduced new and distinct variety of plant), and Design (devoted to ornamental protection of functional devices).

Utility patents make up the majority of filed patents by far, and as such, classes under the Utility heading range all the way from 001 to 987, with only a few numbers in between left void of any class association. There are a total of 33 classes under the Design heading, while the Plant heading has no classes, instead being immediately organized into subclasses. Each of the classes under the Design and Utility headings are further branched into a myriad of distinct subclasses. The USPTO maintains written definitions associated with all the classes and subclasses to further clarify what specific subject matter they encompass.

For more information on intellectual property, please visit Patent, Trademark, Copyright Information.

The content of this article is not intended to be, and does not constitute, legal advice and does not create attorney-client privilege. Consult the attorney of your choice before embarking on any legal matter or any document preparation/filing.

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Dr. Thomas R. (Terry) Williamson III is a Patent Attorney practicing in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Williamson Intellectual Property Law, LLC
1870 The Exchange, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30339
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Williamson Intellectual Property Law, LLC
1870 The Exchange, Suite 100 - Atlanta, Georgia 30339