European Patent Classification ICO "In-Computer Only"
The European Classification system (EPC or ECLA) is used by the EPO for carrying out patent application searches. It is built on top of the International Patent Classification system (IPC), and is constantly being revised and updated. The current IPC version IPC200901 covers 71,000 groups, while ECLA covers 134,000 groups.
The EPO maintains with ECLA only a sub-set of the minimum PCT documentation,namely those documents of the minimum PCT documentation that are available in one of the three EPO official languages (DE,EN,FR). Besides, also BE, NL and LU documents, as well as DE utility models are classified in ECLA. Other documents may be occasionally classified at the examiner's initiative. When an ECLA classification is given to a document, the classification is automatically allocated to those family members having exactly the same priorities of the document which was first classified in ECLA.