The European Patent Office is now publishing a monthly report on changes to the European Classification system (ECLA). ECLA has about 140,000 sub-classes, making it on par with the US Patent Classification. Changes are grouped in three categories: Added, Deleted and Updated. The reports are available at http://www.epo.org/searching/essentials/classification/ecla/changes.html.
Interesting story in IP Frontline about the development of a common classification scheme by the EPO and USPTO. The project is one of ten joint initiatives announced last year by the USPTO, EPO, JPO, KIPO and SIPO. (See the Five IP Offices website). Initial planning is well underway at the EPO and USPTO, but that most of the work will be done in 2012-13. According to the report, the USPTO will abolish its own classification system when the new common system is operational.
I'm the librarian for research services in the Engineering and Science Library at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. I've been working with patent information since 1991, including seven years at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. I believe that the dissemination of patent information is a public good and should be promoted, especially in the education of science and engineering students.