Even though there is no universally recognized definition of what a patent family is, and patent families often vary from database to database, in simple terms, a patent family is a group or collection of patent applications covering either similar or the same technical content.
One of the ideas behind the original concept of having patent families was to make it easier for the folks that enjoy analyzing patent data to quickly identify patents that are related or connected to an individual invention from anywhere in the world.
The idea of a patent family is also utilized in an effort to prevent any kind of confusion or bias when performing patent analysis.
Patent families are also useful when performing patent searches and gathering patent information from multiple patent offices.
Generally, the patent applications within a patent family are connected to each other through priority claims.
The Paris Convention states that the inventors of the patents must file for the same invention in other countries within one year of filing in their original country of application.
There are two main categories of patent families, they are known as simple and extended.