What is a patent family?
Patent families are a single invention that is protected in a number of different countries. They all have a common date that the invention is protected from (the "priority date"). Each family is made up of a number of applications and grants from each of the counties that make up the family. 

Cipher’s applies the DOCDB EPO definition of a patent family.

To account for the fact that a family consists of multiple patent rights in multiple geographies the patent family status is derived as follows:

  • If the family includes a member in a major geography (US, EPO, Germany, UK, Japan, South Korea), it will be considered granted when the first patent in any major geography grants.
  • If the family does not include a member in a major geography, it will be considered granted when the first patent in any geography is granted.

Example cases:

  • If a patent family includes a UK and TW member, it will be considered granted when the UK member grants. This is because the UK is part of the major geography
  • If a patent family includes members that are not part of a major geography (i.e. TW, BR and CN), the family will considered granted when the first of the family has been granted
  • If a family includes UK and TW members and renewal fees for UK is not paid but renewal fees for TW is paid, the family will be considered expired and will show as expired in Cipher. However, the TW member will still be in force
  • If a patent family grants and then is revoked, the status will be considered as expired

What is a 'priority date'?

Priority date is the date the first patent application in the patent family was filed.

What is Cipher's definition for a patent family status?

• Pending – Patent family is actively being prosecuted, but is not yet granted (is still an application).

• Granted – Patent family is granted and in force (i.e. renewal fees have been paid).

• Rejected – Patent applications that have been successfully opposed, rejected by the relevant patent office, or are more than 20 years since their priority date, so could not proceed to grant.

• Expired – Patent families which were granted, but have now expired either due to age (the maximum life of a patent is 20 years, with few exceptions). Or non-payment of renewal fees.

• Active - Patent families which are pending or granted

• Inactive – Patent family has not yet granted, and has seen no activity on any of the regional or national applications for over five years.


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