A patent family is a collection of patent applications covering the same or similar technical content.
The applications in a family are related to each other through priority claims.
The EPO uses an automated process to build patent families based on applications' priority claims.
Once the patent families are then indicated in the EPO's databases, examiners and editorial teams review them for accuracy based on the applications' technical content.
At the EPO, there are two types of patent family:
Please note that different databases use different definitions of patent families, meaning that family members for a particular invention may vary from one database to another.