Generally speaking, a patent family is a group of patents which, like the members of a family, are all related to each other, in this case by way of the priority or priorities of a particular patent document.
In Espacenet a patent family is defined as comprising all documents having exactly the same priority or combination of priorities (simple family). However, deeper analysis of certain patent documents might lead to specific priorities being declared "non-active". In other words, these specific priorities are ignored in the building of simple families. These documents can be found under the Also published as heading in the bibliographic data view.
An INPADOC patent family is defined as comprising all the documents sharing directly or indirectly (e.g. via a third document) at least one priority. This includes all the patent documents resulting from a patent application submitted as a first filing with a patent office and from the same patent application filed within the priority year with a patent office in any other country. In Espacenet these can be found by selecting INPADOC patent family from the left-hand sidebar in the bibliographic data view.
Simple patent family members are automatically assigned the CPC symbol of the document classified first in CPC.
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