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When a company desires to patent inventions that are not wholly new, but enhancements to an original invention or product, it is not necessary to file for a new patent. A continuation, continuation-in-part or divisional applications are options your patent attorney may choose to pursue.
A continuation application is a patent application filed when there are additional claims to an invention whose patent has not yet been issued or abandoned. This type of application is most useful when a patent applicant hasn't exhausted all of the useful ways of claiming a product's uses.
A continuation-in-part is an application in which the applicant adds matter not disclosed in the original parent patent. It repeats much of the original patent's specifications and is a more convenient way to claim enhancements that were developed after the parent application was filed.
A divisional application claims a distinct invention based on important parts taken from the parent application's specifications. A divisional application is sometimes necessary when a patent's claims are too broad to defend it as a single invention.