Report:Espacenet/Viewing Results/Family Search Features
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Family Search Features
Espacenet hosts two different kinds of family groupings (see Family Data for more information on these two different family types). The simple family members are shown on the bibliographic data section for a given record, while the INPADOC family tree is available by selecting the link available from that section.
In Espacenet hit lists, search results are grouped into simple families in which the documents should have closely related or equivalent content. One Espacenet hit represents a single simple family. Bibliographic details for the representative document will be displayed automatically, while document numbers for the other family members will be shown in the “Also published as” list that appears on the right side of the bibliographic data section. If more than five documents are in the simple family, the list will be truncated. The full list may be viewed by selecting the small “more” link below it.
The primary purpose of this list is to allow users to read the specification in the language of their choice. Note that only documents for which the system contains a document facsimile image have small paper-shaped icons beside them: family members that share priority data, but do not have an associated image loaded into Espacenet, are listed with a small arrow icon beside the publication number.
The second family display type is for the extended INPADOC family grouping. This data is accessed by selecting the “View INPADOC patent family” link from the bibliographic data tab. Once loaded, the new screen will show a hit list made up of each individual patent in the INPADOC record. Unlike a normal hit list, every family member is shown, and hits are not grouped into one record per simple family.
The navigation features in Espacenet are excellent, especially because a user may easily review family data for a particular record and then still be able to return to the original hit list data to resume browsing. The INPADOC family records can be navigated in the same manner as a normal hit list. When a family member is viewed, arrows appear in the top center of the page, allowing the user to view the next or previous document, or to return to the family hit list. The bread crumb navigation feature in the upper left of the screen can also be used to return to the family hit list or original document
Additionally, once at the family hit list view, it is then possible to return to the original record for which the investigation into the INPADOC family was begun through the bread crumb navigation links. The original record maintains its place in its native hit list of results, which means that the user can then continue browsing uninterrupted from his or her initial results list.
Because INPADOC families in Espacenet are created dynamically upon request, executing this task may take slightly longer than the typical page load time from the service; load times may also be affected by the size of the family. The largest INPADOC families cannot be displayed by the service: the system will time out before retrieving even the first 500 family members, as seen in the figure below (although in 2005 the limit was apparently as high as 1,000).
The following example was presented by Edlyn S. Simmons in a 2009 review of patent family quirks. The figure below shows INPADOC family data for US 2006007490; Espacenet has timed out before loading the complete family.