The newly finalized claim rules would practically limit most patent applications to twenty-five or fewer claims. To get some sense of how this rule would affect current practice, I ran three separate searches:
- Important Patents: Approximately 4400 of the patents issued between January 1, 2002 and August 1, 2007 have been involved with some type of patent litigation. 35% of these “important” patents have more than 25 claims.
- Issued Patents: Approximately 3000 utility patents issued on Tuesday, August 21, 2007. 18% of those newly issued patents have more than 25 claims.
- Published Patent Applications: Approximately 6600 patent applications were published on August 16, 2007. 27% of those newly published applications include more than 25 claims.
A troubling aspect of the new rules is their potential to have a disproportional impact on important patents. (See “Valuable Patents” by Allison, Lemley, Moore, & Trunkey).