About a year ago, the UnitedStates Patent and Trademark Office(PTO) proposed changes to patentpractice for continuing applicationsfiled under 35 U.S.C. �120.[FOOTNOTE 1] The proposedchanges would permit only one continuedapplication filing as of right; a “continuedapplication” not only includes continuationapplications, but also continuation-in-part applications and requests forcontinued examination. These proposalscaused alarm and much criticism amongmany patent practitioners as well as theirclients.

However, the rules proposed by thePTO are not the only threat to continuationpractice. Some recent decisionsof the Court of Appeals for the FederalCircuit effectively eliminate the statutoryentitlement to an earlier filing date,without generating the same outcry asthe PTO proposal.