Welcome to the new version of the Patents Manual. Please note there are changes to the numbering and sequence of the chapters and pages in the manual. You are encouraged to take the time to explore and familiarise yourself with this new structure. Last Place Priority rule

Date Published

Where the last place priority rule applies, it is set up in a note of the type: “In this subclass/main group(s)/group(s), the last place priority rule is applied, i.e. at each hierarchical level, in the absence of an indication to the contrary, classification is made in the last appropriate place.” For example, see the relevant notes in A61K, C08G, C10M.

According to this rule, a technical subject of the invention is classified by successively locating at each indentation level the last group covering any portion of the technical subject until a subgroup is selected for classification at the deepest appropriate indentation level. When several particular technical subjects are disclosed in a patent document, the last place priority rule is separately applied to each of them.

Example (hypothetical):

  • Inventive subject matter: characterised by both Wind and Chemical energy
  • Relevant CPC scheme:

A (1/00) main group

  • A1(1/02) Electrical energy
  • A2(1/04) Wind energy
  • A3(1/06) Solar energy
  • A4(1/08) Chemical energy
  • When the last place priority rule is applied, the invention should be classified under A4.

In classification schemes where the last place priority rule has been introduced, a sequence of groups is not formally standardised. However, the sequence of groups frequently follows the principle of proceeding from less complex or more general subject matter at the top of the scheme to progressively more complex or specialised subject matter located lower in the scheme.

After selection of the appropriate subclass, the following procedure is applied for identifying a detailed classification place:

a) determining the last main group in the subclass which provides at least in part for the subject of the invention;

b) determining, under this main group, the last one-dot subgroup which provides at least in part for this subject of the invention;

c) repeating the procedure of the previous step through successive indentation levels of subgroups until the last subgroup at the deepest subgroup level (i.e. with a maximum number of dots) which provides for the subject of the invention is determined.

If the matter to be classified relates to a combination of elements covered in an area where the last place priority rule applies and no specific place for the combination is provided, the combination is classified in the last group that provides for at least one of its sub-combinations. Any other sub-combinations which are determined to be novel and non-obvious must also be classified following the last place priority rule procedure. Sub-combinations which are considered to represent information of interest for search may be classified as additional information.

Amended Reasons

Amended Reason Date Amended
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