The next version of the IPC (IPC 2016.01) will enter into force on January 1, 2016. The early publication, the compilation file and the Revision Concordance List of this version are available for consultation in English and French. The corresponding master files are also available.In fact the IPC was conceived in 1971 and is now used by more than 100 countries [What about the others? And where's a handy list of countries that don't use it?]. It's administered by patent offices themselves, rather than by patent applicants, which increases its consistency of use and reduces opportunities for error when pigeon-holing patented technology. However, the IPC doesn't have a monopoly: there are other patent classification schemes too.
Whether looking for specific innovations or examining the distribution of inventions across technology sectors and areas of application, our work -- now augmented by computers to an extent that could scarcely have been imagined 40-odd years ago -- has been made immeasurably easier by the existence of the IPC system. Indeed, the Aistemos Cipher patent analytics product clusters groups of patent families that relate to a similar technology through the use of machine learning algorithms, driven from citations within the patent data and in reliance on a range of other information, including keywords, inventors and the IPC codes themselves.
Let's hope that the IPC will thrive for many years to come.