CAFC: Continuation Application Need Not Claim Priority to PCT Application

Elevator030Broadcast Innovation v. Charter Communications (Fed. Cir. 2005).

The district court found Broadcast’s patent to be anticipated because its priority date was more than one year after the publication of an Australia PCT application on the same subject matter filed by the same parties.  The asserted patent failed to claim a specific reference to the PCT application, but did claim priority to a U.S. application that, in turn, claimed priority to an earlier PCT filing.

On appeal, the CAFC determined that the district court had applied the wrong priority date to the asserted patent — finding that the chain of priority was sufficient to fall within the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 120.

[T]he applicant filed the [US priority application] on July 18, 1995, as the U.S. national stage application of the original PCT application. However, July 18, 1995 is not the “U.S. filing date” of the [US priority application]. Specifically, under 35 U.S.C. § 363, the international filing date of a PCT application is also the U.S. filing date for the corresponding national stage application.

Thus, the court clarified that Section 120’s reference to a later filed application having “the same effect . . . as though filed on the date of the prior application” means that the later application will be treated as having the effective filing date of the prior application.

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