What does straight continuation mean?
Patent attorneys will sometimes use the term “straight continuation” to refer to a specific type of child application that stems from a parent patent application. A straight continuation is simply a child application that does not contain new matter. In contrast, a continuation-in-part (CIP) adds subject matter that was not included in the parent application.
According to MPEP § 201.07, a continuation is an application for the invention(s) disclosed in a prior-filed copending nonprovisional application, international application designating the US (e.g., PCT), or an international design application.
Does a continuation application have the same drawings?
Yes, a continuation application will have the same drawings as those in the parent application. The detailed description will also be similar since no new content is being added. The main difference is what is being claimed.
If there is a need to add drawings, then a CIP is clearly the right child application to file.
What if you simply want to edit the specification without adding drawings?
At times, you might want to add or revise the written description without adding a new figure. In your opinion, nothing new is being added. You’re simply trying to clarify something that is inherently disclosed in the original specification. This is a close call that will require discernment on the part of your patent attorney.
Some examiner may be quite strict in disallowing any edits to the written description if you are filing a straight continuation.
Will the claims be different?
Claims in a straight continuation will differ from those in the parent application. Recognize, however, that support for the claims must still be found in the specification. If you wish to pursue claims that cover certain features not disclosed or adequately supported in the specification, you may need to file a CIP in order to expand the specification and add drawings to show those features.
What is the priority date and why does it matter?
Claims in a utility patent application must always find support in the specification. In a family of patent filings involving parent and child applications, the priority date afforded to any particular claim refers to the earliest filing date of the patent filing in the family that contains the disclosure to support the features recited in the claim. Since a straight continuation should not contain any new matter, the claims therein should be given the priority date of its parent(s).
Why does this matter? An earlier priority date generally helps make a claim more allowable because subsequently dated references will not qualify as prior art. In other words, less prior art can be cited against a claim with an earlier priority date.
Need to file a straight continuation application?
Contact US patent attorney Vic Lin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (949) 223-9623 to see how we can help you file a continuation application that with strategic claims to broaden your patent rights.
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