Patent Families

Patent Families

A patent family is a single invention that is protected in a number of different countries. Each ‘member’ of the family all has 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 countries that make up the 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.

Patent Family Status Glossary

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 that 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.

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