Continuation-Application Laches Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

The Continuation-Application Laches Doctrine is an equitable defense to patent infringement. It is an assertion that the patentee deliberately delayed the issuance of the patent-in-suit by filing multiple continuing applications that added new patent claims to cover products marketed or processes used after the original application was filed. It may be invoked in situations when the holder of a valid patent may be nonetheless barred from enforcing it if there was an unreasonable and unjustified delay in prosecuting the patent claim (even though the applicant complied with pertinent statutes and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office [USPTO] rules), and the alleged infringer has suffered prejudice as a result. In short this doctrine protects the public by forcing patentees to file patent claims in a timely manner.