Continuation Patent Applications: Patent Application Types and Strategies – Part 6

A continuation patent application is a patent application that includes the same disclosure as the parent application and claims priority to the parent application.  It must be filed while the parent application is pending and then gets the benefit of the priority for the parent application.  While the scope of the invention disclosure must be the same, the claims of the patent can be worded differently or claim a different part of the invention.

Continuation applications can be used to: 1) maintain pendency of an application after claims in the parent application have been allowed; 2) prosecute claims that were disallowed in the parent application; and 3) prosecute additional claims not previously submitted in the parent application but still covering an invention disclosed in the parent application.  There are also other strategic uses for continuation applications, but these are the main ones.  Continuation applications generally expire 20 years from the priority date for their parent application.