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Guidelines for Examination

Patent family members; the "&" sign 

In the case of patent families, only a copy of the member of the family actually cited is normally supplied. The other members are mentioned in an annex systematically produced by the computer for information only (see B-X, 9.1.2). However, in certain circumstances one or more further patent documents in the same patent family may be mentioned on the search report after the "&" sign (see B-X, 9.1.2(i)). In these cases, the examiner may designate that a patent document appearing after the "&" sign is also copied and forwarded to the applicant (this document will then also be included in the examination file and may be referred to in the search opinion, if applicable, see B-XI, 7).