The Patent Family

Last updated: June 2021

Patent Family Definition

Patent Family Representative

Patent Family Representative Chosen by PatentSight

Changing a Patent Family Representative

Other Patent Family Definitions

Patent Family Definition

PatentSight uses a family definition close to the DOCDB simple family as defined by the EPO:

"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." (

According to this definition, documents with the exact same set of priorities are considered to cover the same technical content and are therefore grouped into one patent family. 

While divisionals and continuations belong to the same patent family as their parent application, continuations in part (CIPs) are not considered to cover the exact same technical content and therefore do not belong to the same patent family.


Patent Family Representative

Patent Family Representative Chosen by PatentSight

Each patent family is represented by a family representative that is displayed in charts and tables, the Result List, the search filter, and any exported file. The PatentSight default family representative is selected based on the following rules:

  • The PatentSight family representative is selected in the following order of authorities: EP, US, WO, GB, CA, AU, DE etc. Hereby, only active authorities of each patent family are considered.
  • If a family has one EP member, this member is selected as its representative document. If there is more than one EP member, the document with the earliest publication date is selected. 
The default family representative of a patent family can change if, for example, an EP publication appears within a family which only had a US publication. Then, the US member is replaced in its role as family representative by the EP member.


How to Change the Patent Family Representative

In your settings, you can adjust the representative document that is selected as family representative for each patent family.

  1. Click on your username and select "Settings".
  2. Under "Settings", open the tab "Family representatives".
  3. Select one of the available choices (e.g., "Document with first publication date"). Alternatively, you can select "Custom choice" and 

To further adjust how the system selects the patent family representative, you can directly enter country and kind codes into the field displayed under "Custom choice".


Other Patent Family Definitions

The smallest unit of analysis available in the PatentSight BI is the DOCDB simple patent family as defined by the European Patent Office. PatentSight does not use the INPADOC extended family definition:

"An extended patent family is a collection of patent documents covering a technology. The technical content covered by the applications is similar, but not necessarily the same. Members of an extended patent family will have at least one priority in common with at least one other member - either directly or indirectly." (

The main advantage of DOCDB's simple patent family over the INPADOC family is that patent documents in an INPADOC family can have members with only partially overlapping priorities. Therefore, documents that have little in common can be compiled in a chain-like manner. Ultimately, INPADOC families may become too broad for technology benchmarking purposes.

However, for each simple family, the PatentSight BI offers information regarding the corresponding INPADOC family IDs. If needed, you can search by the INPADOC family ID:

You can also display INPADOC family IDs in charts and tables:

Due to the difference in definition, more than one simple patent family can carry the same INPADOC family ID.  Please consider differences in patent family definitions when → importing data, matching, or tagging patents in the PatentSight BI.