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The INPADOC (INternational PAtent DOCumentation) Centre was founded in 1974 by an agreement between the Austrian Patent Office and the World Patent Organization. The purpose of the company was to provide a number of patent information services, but most importantly to collect and document patent families. The company was incorporated into the European Patent Office in 1989, which continued its data production services and continued licensing the data to commercial providers.[1] Now INPADOC is part of the European Patent Office's European Patent Information and Documentation Systems Directorate (EPIDOS).

In 2007, the EPO finished a project to combine its own master bibliographic file (DOCDB) with the INPADOC records, extending the length of the database’s coverage. Before the merger, the coverage of the INPADOC file extended back to around 1968 at the earliest, for some countries. The new DOCDB XML file added about 14 million more records to the file, and substantially lengthened the coverage of some authorities back to the 1800s. Currently 95 patenting authorities are covered by INPADOC (as of 2012 - check coverage information for the current number of countries covered).[2]

The timeliness of updates in the INPADOC/DOCDB database is totally dependent upon the national patent offices, which may not provide updates on a regular schedule. However, publications from major patenting authorities should appear in the database after a maximum of 4-6 weeks, with data from many countries available within days of publication (this timeframe from Adams, 2006).[3]

Although INPADOC contains English-language abstracts for some publications, these are provided by the originating patent offices and are not produced by the EPO itself. The EPO does not offer advanced translation services for English abstracts, nor does it offer other value-added content such as the special indexing available in Thomson Reuter's Derwent World Patents Index; however, the INPADOC file remains a highly valued source of data due to the sheer number of authorities represented, as well as the timely updates and valuable legal status information from multiple authorities.

To obtain current documentation of the contents of the INPADOC bibliographic and legal status files, see the instructions in Downloading INPADOC Coverage.

Major Recent Updates

January 2013

According to an email from an EPO representative:[4]

The expressions "PRS" and "PFS" need to be removed from many EPO systems. The products that were bearing these names in the past have changed and these words have become obsolete.

Some of you have automated the retrieval and processing of these tables. Therefore, we would like to inform you that the DOCDB and Legal Status statistics on the EPO website in the section "Useful tables and statistics" will no longer have document names "PRS_YYWW" or "PFS_YYWW" as of week 6/2013. The tables will be renamed to "DOCDB_YYWW" and "LS_YYWW" as of Thursday 07 February 2013.

Please note that "PRS Date" and "PRS Code" will be removed from the Legal Status section in Espacenet in due course.

September 2011

The 40th week of DOCDB 2011 is scheduled to include a second phase of the JP rekey exercise, according to the EPO Patent Data Services Team:[5]

1. part: The bulk of this rekey will affect the remaining JP publication numbers (prior to 2000) where the Japanese T-kind code publications will be rekeyed to A kind code.

The sequence numbers of the publications prior to 2000 will also be re-formatted in the operation as detailed in the following algorithm :

ex : JP 1500001 T will become JP H01500001 A as the application sequence number is 50223387

2. part: At the same time we will take the opportunity to include another small rekey into this operation regarding the JP-U and JP-T1 publications therefore please find enclosed the updated algorithm:

February 2011

From week 7/2011, Slovakian legal status events from January 2010 onwards will be available in the PRS database.[6]

January 2011

As of week 3/2011, cited references of approximately 650,000 JP-A publications will be made available in DOCDB. In week 4/2011, cited references for a similar number of JP-U publications will also be made available. [7]

As of week 2/2011, the EPO will start including Colombian (CO) legal status data into the INPADOC legal status file. The collection will extend back to records from 2003.

For more information, see the EPO news item at

May 2010

The EPO announced that US assignment data will now be available in INPADOC one week after the data is available in the USPTO's assignment databases. The following excerpt from the EPO's news bulletin explains the former procedure and how it has been improved.

Until now, US assignment data was captured from the bi-monthly DVDs and processed by means of a lengthy procedure resulting in a further delay. From week 22/2010 onwards, the data will be captured one week after their updates in the weekly US assignment database. These weekly updates will commence with data from February 2010 onwards (week 5/2010). [8]

More information is available from the EPO news updates page at, and from a posting on the Patent Librarian's Notebook blog, at


The EPO had stated that it plans to add Bolivian (BO) data into its bibliographic data file by the end of 2009.[9] Note: As of May 2010, this addition had not taken place.

October 2009

In October 2009, the EPO announced that Polish legal status data is now available in the INPADOC PRS database. According to the EPO, "only front file data from 2007 onwards will be available."[10]

August 2009

In August of 2009, the EPO announced that data from Colombia (CO) will be included in its bibliographic data file from the week of August 10 (week 33/2009). When introduced, the data collection extended back to 1995 at the earliest, and included the following document types: [11]

  • A (Patent application for a patent of invention)
  • B (Patent of invention)
  • U (Utility model application)
  • Y (Utility model)
  • S (Industrial design application)
  • S1 (Industrial design)

July 2009

In July of 2009, legal status information for Russian (RU) patents and utility models was added to the INPADOC legal status (PRS) file. Patents and utility models from the Soviet Union which are still valid in Russia will be included. [12]

June 2009

In June of 2009, the EPO announced that it would begin to offer data from the Dominican Republic (DO) in its bibliographic file. When introduced, the collection extended back to 2002, and up to 2007. It included the following document types: [13]

  • A (Patent application for a patent of invention)
  • B (Patent of invention)
  • U (Utility model application)
  • Y (Utility model)
  • S (Industrial design application)
  • S1 (Industrial design)

May 2009

In May of 2009, Chinese legal status data was added to the INPADOC PRS (legal status) file.[14]

Early 2009

In late 2008 and early 2009, the European Patent Office enhanced the bibliographic content of the INPADOC PFS (bibliographic) file with feeds from Latin American countries, with new feeds from Chile (CL,) Costa Rica (CR), Cuba (CU), Ecuador (EC), El Salvador (SV), Nicaragua (NI), Panama (PA), and Peru (PE).[15][16]

Patent Family Data in INPADOC

INPADOC patent families were first produced at a time when patent family information was scarce and hard to obtain. Perhaps because of this, the service based its patent family definitions on the broadest basis possible, requiring only that a new family member had to share at least one priority document with at least one other patent in the family – an “extended” patent family. Typically, referring to a document’s “INPADOC” patent family today means its extended patent family. This is a much broader family structure than Derwent patent families.

Because the INPADOC/DOCDB database is available to commercial patent information providers, it is the basis for many patent family files hosted by various database producers. Although they may claim to rely on multiple sources, and apply various patent family algorithms to the raw data, DOCDB XML is the backbone of almost every commercially available patent family database.

The patent search software, Minesoft PatBase, uses INPADOC patent families to group results. See the PatBase article for more details.

Note: Also see the Definitions of Patent Families article for more information on INPADOC/DOCDB and associated patent family data.

Legal Status Data in INPADOC

INPADOC is well known as a source of legal status data for patents and patent applications from around the world. Legal status data contains information concerning changes to the legal status of patents and patent applications. Status updates for an application as well as its family members are presented, both before and after a patent is granted.

Legal status actions were provided in INPADOC for 54 patenting authorities as of October 2008, (for patents in 39 countries + the national phases for PCT/EP documents in 15 countries) and include the patent number, the gazette date announcing the action, the legal status code, the equivalent text description, and the week in which the action was added to the database.[17] To determine the current coverage of the INPADOC legal status file, please see Downloading INPADOC Coverage for instructions on how to obtain the latest summary spreadsheet from the EPO.

INPADOC’s compilation of legal status data from around the world is highly valued in the patent information community.

Some Major Sources of INPADOC/DOCBD data include:

Contact Information

Questions concerning INPADOC file content may be directed to the European Patent Office, which produces the file:

European Patent Office
Information Service
Renweg 12
Postfach 90
Vienna, A-1031
Telephone: +(431) 52126 4051
Fax: +(431) 52126 3591


  1. Poynder, Richard. “Interview with the EPO’s Wolfgang Pilch.” Accessed on December 13, 2007.
  2. Though this information may be available from multiple sources, the resources used for this article include training materials provided by STN, at, and, both Accessed on December 13, 2007.
  3. Adams, Stephen R. "Information Sources in Patents." Munich: KG Saur, 2006.
  4. "Removal of PRS and PFS acronyms on the EPO website." Email from EPO representative received January 30, 2013.
  5. Patent Data Services Team (EPO), e-mail message to author, September 23, 2011.
  6. "The introduction of Slovakian (SK) legal status in the EPO worldwide legal status database." EPO website, Accessed on February 01, 2011.
  7. "JP citations in DOCDB." EPO website, Accessed on January 11, 2011.
  8. Newsflash 08/2010. "Update on US assignments in the INPADOC legal status database." Posted May 20, 2010. EPO News Updates, Accessed on May 24, 2010.
  9. "The EPO extends its coverage of Latin American countries in the bibliographic database - update 3." Accessed June 12, 2009.
  10. "Announcement on Polish legal status data." Accessed November 3, 2009.
  11. "The EPO extends its coverage of Latin American countries in the bibliographic database - update 4." Accessed August 06, 2009.
  12. "New Russian legal status data." Accessed July 02, 2009.
  13. "The EPO extends its coverage of Latin American countries in the bibliographic database - update 3." Accessed June 12, 2009.
  14. "Chinese legal status data in the EPO INPADOC database (update)." Accessed May 20, 2009.
  15. "The EPO extends its coverage of Latin American countries in the bibliographic database." Accessed May 20, 2009.
  16. "The EPO extends its coverage of Latin American countries in the bibliographic database - update." EPO news updates, Accessed May 20, 2009.
  17. "Contents and Coverage of the INPADOC Legal Status File," Excel Spreadsheet (filename PRS_0840), obtained from on October 8, 2008. File is updated weekly; this data was obtained from the update for week 40 of 2008.

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