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REFI, or the (Reference File) Citation Database, was in existence up until April 2007, but has now been discontinued. Before that time, this file was the European Patent Office’s (EPO) citation database, and it principally contained citation information from European Patent Officer Examiner’s reports and Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) International Search Reports. The PCT Search Reports are created by the examiner who performed the required international search on the PCT application; see PCT Minimum Documentation for more information. The database includes citations from all searches made at the EPO, including: Belgium (BE), Switzerland (CH), European Patent Office (EP), France (FR), United Kingdom (GB), Netherlands (NL), Turkey (TR) and all PCT search reports, as well as data provided by Japan, Australia, Germany, and the United States (US). After discontinuing the data product, all citation data was incorporated into the EPO’s main bibliographic data source, known as Doc.db.

Below are some substantive excerpts from the EPO’s downloadable information guide to the REFI file. Even though the file has been discontinued, this data was still available on the EPO website as late as November 2008, on the raw data manuals page. The excerpts below cover the historical purpose of the REFI file, as well as the data coverage and the delivery schedule delays that were typical when this guide was written.

Although the file has been discontinued, this information is still relevant when attempting to determine the citation content of the EPO’s DOCDB bibliographic file. Even newer manuals that provide user documentation for the current version of DOCDB, referred to as ST 36 or DOCDB XML, still refer to REFI coverage when discussing citation data content.

Note: The new term for REFI content appears to be the Cited References Master File, as presented in Annex XI of the v 2.1 DOCDB ST 36 user manual, available here. This document, published in December 2007, will not be excerpted here as it is likely to be updated regularly; however, users are encouraged to check this page for current information on DOCDB data format and content.

The following is an excerpt from the REFI Cited References User Guide:[1]

This excerpt deals with the definition of REFI and the country coverage therein


  1. "The REFI Product For External Users". Pages 9-10. European Patent Office,$File/refi_en.pdf. Accessed on November 18, 2008.

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