When a company or an individual drafts and files a patent, a whole new world of information and terms start to fall on them.
This timeline gets even more complex when a second application is filed, and so on: bigger portfolios, even newer terms, will start to arise, and a family begins.
What is a “patent family”?
Here, the basic version.
A patent family is a set of interrelated patent applications filed at one or more patent offices and typically having the same original application (i.e., priority or priorities), aiming to protect the same invention or technological development.
Over time, the first filed application will be filed in different jurisdictions thus creating a family.
Members of patent families, such as regular families, Are related but not identical:
If an initial application enters the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PTC) and afterwards is filed in 5 different national phases, the first patent application, the international publication (WO) and the 5 national phases will be part of the same patent family.
Similarly, if a divisional application directed to a particular embodiment of the invention is filed during prosecution of the original patent, a parenthood relation is immediately created wherein the divisional is a child of the parent (original) case, and both of them are part of the same family.
Do not be afraid to see your single patent application grow into a whole family!
If you want to learn more, increase your understanding of patent families and decide how to construct them, do not hesitate to contact our specialized Patent Practice Area.