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DOCDB simple patent family

A simple patent family is a collection of patent documents that are considered to cover a single invention. The technical content covered by the applications is considered to be identical. Members of a simple patent family will all have exactly the same priorities.

When building simple patent families, the EPO's automated process does not take into account all the priorities listed in the bibliographic data on Espacenet.

The priorities taken into account are:

  • First filings
    A first filing is a foreign application claimed under the Paris Convention.
  • Provisional first filings
    A provisional first filing is a US provisional application.
  • Equivalents to first filings
    An equivalent to a first filing is a US continuation in part.

The automated process excludes:

  • Applications that are a continuation of an existing parent application
  • Applications that are a division of an existing parent application

Continuations and divisions are considered to cover the same technical content as the parent application. Continuations and divisions will always be in a patent family with the parent application, regardless of the priorities that they claim.

EPO products and services that show simple patent families:

  • In Espacenet the DOCDB simple patent family is shown under the heading "Also published as:"
  • The Open Patent Services (OPS) web service contains the same data as Espacenet; you can view the simple patent family in the OPS published-data service by using the constituent "equivalents"
  • In the European Patent Register fellow simple patent family members are marked as "Equivalent" in the "Patent family" section
  • The Global Patent Index (GPI) has a heading "EPO simple family", in "Biblio."
  • PATSTAT indicates the simple patent family, but only by giving the family ID
  • The simple patent family is available in the raw data product EPO worldwide bibliographic database (DOCDB) (the back file indicates only the family ID; the front file shows all family members)

This information is updated daily.

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