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Parallel coupled microstrip sections with a slotted ground plane are proposed as building blocks of coupled-line microstrip filters with enhanced performance. It is shown that, by proper adjustment of the ground-plane slot dimensions, the double frequency spurious band associated with unequal even/odd electrical lengths can be suppressed or meaningfully reduced. As an additional feature, this simple design relaxes tolerances of strip width and spacing in those cases where tightly coupled high-impedance sections are required. A rough preliminary design can be obtained within a few seconds using a fast optimization algorithm based on a quasi-TEM analysis of the coupled sections. Fine tuning is based on the use of a commercial electromagnetic simulator. Finally, experimental check of filter performance is provided.