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Patent families

Generally speaking, a patent family is a group of patents which, like a family, are all related to each other, in this case by way of the priority or priorities of a particular patent document.

In the European Patent Register you will find four types of document listed with a letter code:

• D stands for divisional application: the application has been divided out of the one you are currently looking at. For further information see Guide for applicants, Part I, D. VIII. Divisional applications.

• E stands for equivalent: the patent document has exactly the same priorities as the one you are currently viewing.

• M stands for patent family member: the patent document is related to the one you are currently looking at by way of at least one priority.

• P stands for earlier application: the application is an earlier application in a direct line of the divisional application you are currently looking at. For further information see Guide for applicants, Part I, D. VIII. Divisional applications.