What, in the US, is a continutation patent?
As explained by James Logan, the founder of Pulse Audio, (he's a patent troll, but an eloquent one), answering the question of how he patented podcasting in 1999 when the idea was already widespread:
Under certain circumstances, specifically when the patent office has not finished prosecuting a family of patents, the inventor is allowed to apply for additional claims that derive from the original invention by filing a “Continuation Patent”. The priority date, or date of invention, that is given by the patent office to this Continuation is the filing date given to the original patent application in the family. In our case, then, the priority date of the ‘504 patent is October of 1996—the date we filed our first patent application in which the material that describes podcasting was included. (Source: Slashdot interview)
(I wonder if the word "prosecuting" in the first sentence was a typo of "processing".)
 Related pages on en.swpat.org
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