I understand the term plurality to mean many or multiple within patent law. Patent No. 9,598,822 uses the following sentence.

"The system according to claim 1, wherein the one or more drone vehicles includes a plurality of the drone vehicles"

Does this mean: There could be many drone vehicles within each drone vehicle? When referring to one drone vehicle this could include many drone vehicles?

Any help greatly appreciated as this was recently granted and I would like to use the language as a template.

  • 1
    I'd prefer to leave answering up to a patent lawyer. However, I interpret this to mean that one or more can mean a larger number of vehicles, not that the vehicles contain vehicles within them.
    – Eric S
    Aug 15, 2017 at 14:13
  • As part of a dependent for an independent claim stating "one or more drones", the dependency may be merely redundant surplusage, where "plurality" is obviously a subset of "one or more", where such subset doesn't include "one". Not clear why someone would claim it that way. Twice. There is no need or mention for any drone itself "including" within itself, any other drone, and it would be incongruous unless the specification actually teaches such a thing.
    – Upnorth
    Aug 15, 2017 at 19:19
  • I dont understand, how come "something of X" can mean "some X"? Many says, "plurality of x" means "one or more x"! Anyone can correct me? Jul 27, 2021 at 20:24

4 Answers 4


Traditionally 'plurality' in patent drafting practise has meant 'a number greater than 1'.

If you ask 'why not just say "more than one"', then I haven't a good answer.

In a number of cases, colloquial verbal expressions have encountered official objection of some kind during the examination of patent applications, and when this has become a regular occurrence for a particular word or phrase, it has then fallen out of use in favor of whichever circumlocution became known as successful in getting around the objection of the type. This may be such a case.


Does this mean: There could be many drone vehicles within each drone vehicle? When referring to one drone vehicle this could include many drone vehicles?

I have gone through the specifications, in my opinion one or more drone vehicles described in the claim are with respect to the lead vehicle i.e., a single lead vehicle can communicate with single or multiple number of drones which it can send the coordinates of track location where repairs are to be done.


This is common patent language where a dependent claim further limits the claim(s) on which it is dependent (independent claim 1 in this case). Claim 1 states there are one or more drone vehicles. The dependent claim referred to states that the one or more drone vehicles are actually a plurality of drone vehicles. In other words, the number of drone vehicles has been limited to a plurality of drone vehicles, and no longer includes the case of there being only one drone vehicle. Here, "includes" simply makes for a smoother connection between "one or more" and "a plurality of" than "is" or "are" would. Patent language often invites over-analysis and the literal meaning can be mind-bending but the language is shaped by conventions and the actual meaning is probably quite simple. I pity the person who read the whole specification.


You have to take its meaning within the context of the patent as a whole, which I have not done. But, based on the sentence it could mean that there is are many drone vehicles included in the one or more drone vehicles.

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