Technology is always changing. Patent law is also constantly evolving, as the courts and Congress continue to make significant changes to this area of law. But what about patents themselves? Some studies have looked at how patent specifications have changed over time, but no one has looked specifically at the most important aspect of a patent, its claims. Given the changes in technology and law, one would anticipate patent claims to have evolved.

Despite the expectations, this paper concludes that patent claim shape is largely unaffected by time, technology, crowded fields, or prosecution time. This paper suggests a possible reason why claim length appears incommensurate with technology and unaffected by other factors. Specifically, patent claims are drafted to “look good,” regardless of the underlying technology or any other factor that should figure into claim length.



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