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A patent family is "a set of patents taken in various countries to protect a single invention (when a first application in a country – the priority – is then extended to other offices)." In other words, a patent family is "the same invention disclosed by a common inventor(s) and patented in more than one country."
Simple and extended patent families
Simple patent family: All patent documents have exactly the same priority date or combination of priority dates.
"Extended" patent family: All patent documents are linked (directly or indirectly) via a priority document belonging to one patent family. The extended families allow for additional connectors to link other than strictly priority date. These include: domestic application numbers, countries that have not ratified the Paris Convention, or if the application was filed too late to claim priority.
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Economic Analysis and Statistics Division, OECD science, technology and industry scoreboard: towards a knowledge-based economy, OECD Publishing, 2001, ISBN 92-64-18648-4, ISBN 978-92-64-18648-4, page 60.
- United States Patent and Trademark Office web site, Glossary. Consulted on April 27, 2009.
- "Patent families > Definitions". European Patent Office. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
- "Patent families > The "extended" (INPADOC) patent family". European Patent Office. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
- Patent families on the Espacenet web site
- Patent families on the European Patent Office web site
- Guidelines for Examination in the EPO, section b.ix.2.4 : "Patent family system"
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