Fewer Patent Claims Per Application

By Dennis Crouch

Since 2004, patent applicants have been filing fewer and fewer patent claims per application. The chart below is just one example. It shows the number of applications that include more than three independent claims, grouped by application filing date. (The chart only includes published applications). One interesting result here is that, although more applications are being filed each year the total number new patent claims being applied-for has decreased over the past decade.

This is an update from my prior post “Fewer Jumbo Patents.”

12 thoughts on “Fewer Patent Claims Per Application

  1. although more applications are being filed each year the total number new patent claims being applied-for has decreased over the past decade.

    Interesting fact.

    Almost as interesting as the silence from the anti-patent folks about this “patents are running amuck” tidbit.

  2. If one has a large number of independent claims in one patent, one can still only collect one royalty, one damage, for infringement of the patent regardless of how many claims are infringed.

    In contrast, if those independent claims are placed in separate applications, there may be more costs involved in terms of official fees, but there is a potential for multiple awards due to the infringement of more than one patent.

    I don’t know if the above thinking is affecting the prosecution behavior of applicants, but it should.

  3. “Judge Lourie’s new doctrine, the Doctrine of Who Needs Claims Anwyay (DWNCA).”

    I <3 that doctrine, I wish they’d implement it at the PTO.

  4. Fellow patriots…?

    You really need to get a handle on your self-loathing MM.

    The easiest thing to do would be for you to actually do work you believe in.

  5. Dennis — ever compared the number of claims (independents and dependents) of cons … with those of their parents?

    Wonder what a difference, if any, might indicate/suggest.

  6. he change in term length has effectively docked the submarine fleet.

    Except for the nuclear subs that are still out there, e.g., those owned by Admiral Burns Hyatt and other beleagured multimillionaire who have tried oh-so-hard to get their pre-GATT applications allowed but have simply lacked the means to overcome the all-powerful and all-arbitary USPTO for the past fifteen years.

    I had an idea this morning while reading the news, anon. You, Les, and your fellow patriots should consider starting a little community with its own patent laws, its own examination office and its own courts (with jurisdiction only over the community of course). You could make it mandatory for every kid over the age of 14 to draft an application (which will be immediately granted, of course). There would be no subject matter eligiblity restrictions. The most important rule would be that everyone in the community owns a patent. Doesn’t that sound like Greatest Thing Evah? You’ll have zero unemployment. It’ll be a model for the world.

  7. Interesting thought, although I’m not sure too many patent prosecutors understood the nuances of the doctrine of claim differentiation in the first place.

    Also, it’s not the “chipping” away at the DCD that is diminishing the value of additional claims (and the value of well-drafted claims generally). It’s the obsolescence of the DCD in light of Judge Lourie’s new doctrine, the Doctrine of Who Needs Claims Anwyay (DWNCA).

    I remain confident that the CAFC as a whole will never go “Full Lourie”.

  8. As the FedCir chips away at the Doctrine of Claim Differentiation the value of additional claims diminishes.

  9. Thanks for the misnomer Paul, as I am sure that you are aware that the change in term length has effectively docked the submarine fleet.

  10. As a corrolary to the extra claims fee increase, many companies have been increasingly outsourcing their PTO work and squeezing costs from it, which could account for the further declines in the number of claims per application.
    [But not the applications of "submarine admirals."]

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