CPC stands for Cooperative Patent Classification and is one of the categorisation systems for patents. CPCs are used in 39 countries and are administered in joint collaboration between the European Patent Office (EPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and are used to classify the content of patents in a uniform manner. It is a hierarchical system made up of letters and numbers, which allows you to identify patents in a specific field of technology. For instance, the category A is labeled "Human Necessities", within category A there are then 15 subcategories. Those subcategories then have sub-sub-categories, sub-sub-sub categories and so on. These go all the way down to A01B1/02, for instance, with each section or level of the CPC becoming more and more specific, that now referring to "Spades; Shovels".
With foreign patents and patents that are written in misleading or uncommon jargon, they can be very difficult to find using a keyword search. Searching by CPCs ensures that you will capture all technologies within a specific field, regardless of the terminology used.
Using CPCs may be preferred to IPCs since CPCs are more up to date than IPCs. However, IPCs are used in a lot more countries than CPCs. You can find out more about IPCs here: What is an IPC and why it is important to my search?
PatSnap has a glossary of all CPCs which you can find HERE.