A Guide to Continuation Patent Applications

A Guide to Continuation Patent Applications

October 23, 2022
Walker Weitzel
Patent Attorney , Patent Law , Patent Learning

Filing a patent application for your invention grants you exclusive ownership rights after issuance, prohibiting others from selling, using, or manufacturing your patent invention. A patent continuation application can be filed after the initial patent application for additional patent protection to narrow down or broaden the claims in the parent patent application. 

Continuation patent application allows patent applicants to:

Protect Multiple Inventions

Patent applications are filed for a single patent and cannot include multiple patent inventions. If you are developing related inventions that are a subset or continuation of the original patent, you can get patent protection for your future inventions with a continuation patent application.

Account for Evolving Technology

Patent continuation applications can be used to get protection for any evolving technology you use to advance your original patent. Thus, preventing competitors to use your original technology to develop new patent inventions.

Broaden Claims

Sometimes the patent office may not approve or grant patent applications based on broad or wider claims and an applicant may have to narrow down the claims to get their application approved quicker. Continuation patent applications can be filed to broaden the claims in the parent patent application for patent protection covering all aspects of the patent invention. 

Narrow Down Claims

When an original patent application claims are too broad, it adds an element of vagueness or uncertainty, allowing competitors to capitalize on it by inventing their versions of the product or invalidating the patent application entirely. By narrowing down the claims in a continuation application and outlining the specifications to align closely with the parent patent application, you can protect against such situations where your patent will be invalidated. 

Protect Against Competitor Designs

Continuation patent applications can be used to protect against design infringement by competitors using your technology to develop alternative designs related to your patent. You can block the competitor products by adding additional claims and getting protection for them in the continuation patent application. Competitors usually exploit a weakness in patent applications to find a way to produce a design and get a patent. Continuation patent application allows patentees to account for the weakness and update the design and sue for patent infringement if their claims are approved.

Aid in Patent Litigation Strategy

Continuation patent applications can be used in litigation to resubmit claims covering competitor inventions as long as they are in context with your original patent invention. They can also be used as new patent applications to address claims on your first patent application by drafting a revised version to invalidate the claims made by competitors. 

Increase Patent Value 

Patent applications can take around two to three years to get approved. During that time, your patent is marked as “patent pending” which shows that the patent is in the process of being granted. By filing a continuation patent application, you can protect your patent when it’s at the marketing stage by accounting for factors not covered in the parent patent application. This is a benefit for the investors because they know the patent is protected against competitors and gives more freedom when marketing the product. 

A continuation patent application must be:

  • Filed before the original patent application has been granted or rejected
  • The additional claims must be supported by the ones given in the parent patent application
  • The claims in the continuation patent application cannot be the same as the original patent application. They must be broader or narrower and related to the original patent 

Divisional Patent Applications and Continuation-in-Part (CIPS)

The Patent Office allows two other types of patent applications apart from continuation patent applications:

Divisional Patent Application

Similar to a continuation patent application, a divisional patent application has the same date and disclosure as the parent patent application. Divisional patent applications can be used to file claims not included in the original application but must be within the disclosure of the patent claims provided in the first application. They can also be used to draft patent claims to block a design around by competitors. 


A CIPs application allows applicants to add developments to the original patent not included in the first patent application. The specifications of the application are the same as the parent application but with more aspects and material added to describe the changes. 

Why File Continuation Patent Applications?

The three types of patent applications filed after the parent application provide patent applications to enhance their patent protection without filing a new patent application. The cost of these applications is considerably lower than filing for a new patent application, with the priority dates being the same. This does not add to the length of the processing times for the patent applications and allows applicants to cover additional claims related to multiple inventions, technology, and competitor designs. 

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