Monitoring nanotechnology using patent classifications: an overview and comparison of nanotechnology classification schemes

  • Björn JürgensEmail author
  • Victor Herrero-Solana


Patents are an essential information source used to monitor, track, and analyze nanotechnology. When it comes to search nanotechnology-related patents, a keyword search is often incomplete and struggles to cover such an interdisciplinary discipline. Patent classification schemes can reveal far better results since they are assigned by experts who classify the patent documents according to their technology. In this paper, we present the most important classifications to search nanotechnology patents and analyze how nanotechnology is covered in the main patent classification systems used in search systems nowadays: the International Patent Classification (IPC), the United States Patent Classification (USPC), and the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC). We conclude that nanotechnology has a significantly better patent coverage in the CPC since considerable more nanotechnology documents were retrieved than by using other classifications, and thus, recommend its use for all professionals involved in nanotechnology patent searches.


Nanotechnology Patents Patent classification Cooperative patent classification CPC International patent classification IPC United States patent classification USPC Innovation Policy 



We would like to thank the Spanish Ministry of Education for funding the framework project “Technology Watch of Spanish Nanotechnology via its patents” (Project number: CSO2012-38801) for which this analysis was used.

Compliance with ethical standards


This study was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education in the framework of the project “Technology Watch of Spanish Nanotechnology via its patents” (Project number: CSO2012-38801).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CITPIA PATLIB CentreAgency of Innovation and Development of AndalusiaSevilleSpain
  2. 2.SCImago-UGR (SEJ036)University of GranadaGranadaSpain

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