Patenting Inventions or Inventing Patents? Continuation Practice at the USPTO

72 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2020 Last revised: 22 Feb 2022

See all articles by Cesare Righi

Cesare Righi

Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Barcelona School of Economics

Timothy Simcoe

Boston University - Questrom School of Business; NBER

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 18, 2022


Continuations allow inventors to add new claims to old patents, leading to concerns about inadvertent infringement and holdup. We study the use of continuations to obtain standard essential patents (SEPs), a setting where patents are easily linked to possibly infringing technology. Continuation filings increase after standard publication. This effect is larger when patent examiners are more lenient, and for applicants with licensing-based business models. Claims of SEPs also become more similar after standard publication, and late claiming is positively correlated with litigation. Our findings suggest widespread use of continuations to "invent patents" that are infringed by already-published standards.

Keywords: patents, standards, standard essential patents, continuations

JEL Classification: O34,O38,K11,L15

Suggested Citation

Righi, Cesare and Simcoe, Timothy S., Patenting Inventions or Inventing Patents? Continuation Practice at the USPTO (February 18, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Cesare Righi (Contact Author)

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Carrer de Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Jaume I building, room 20.1E34
Barcelona, 08005


Barcelona School of Economics ( email )


Timothy S. Simcoe

Boston University - Questrom School of Business ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02215
United States

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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