In the past few years, there have been a steady decreasing amount of independent patent claims as well as a declining proportion of patents having higher numbers of independent claims. Since the 2004, there are now fewer patents with more than three claims and a substantial increase in the number of patents with three independent claims.
For those curious, according to fishiplaw.com, an independent claim “stands alone, and do not reference any other claim. Thus, in the following claim set, claim 1 is independent because it does not reference any other claim.” Contrast those with dependent claims, which “reference another claim and are proper subsets of their parents, i.e. the claim(s) upon which they depend.”
The charts below are based on an analysis of all issued between January 1976 and January 2014. The first chart shows the average number of independent patent claims issued each week. The second chart shows the proportion of patents having a given number of independent claims.
SPECIAL THANKS TO KATRINA NICHA FOR AUTHORING THIS ARTICLE