I am digging into the USPTO bulk patents and patent applications and I observe a pattern for any independent claim: it never starts with a definite article 'The'. However, I have not proved that yet. If it is true then it would be much easier to accurately determine independent claims when parsing *.xml files.

Hence the question: is it possible for a US independent claim to start with 'The' article?

  • So far, I found US9714550B2 which has the first independent claim starting from The article.
    – Max
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 20:59
  • Perhaps another strategy is to determine if the claim uses the word "claim". Dependent claims (I think) will have the work "claim" where as independent claims won't.
    – Eric S
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 20:50

2 Answers 2


Is it possible for a US independent claim to start with 'the'?


Typically you would not have an independent claim starting with "the". That is because the term lacks an antecedent, so would generally be objected to.

However, this is only a tendency, and not an inviolable rule. So there is a reasonable chance that at least some patents have been issued with an independent claim beginning with "the".

  • Indeed, my research shows that the chance is no more than %0.1
    – Max
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 18:56

I did my own research and found out that:

Among 3,019,895 utility patents published 04/01/2005 through 16/01/2018, 1,707 patents (%0.057) have at least one independent claim starting with 'The' article.

Thus, the chance is about %0.057.

  • 1
    You might want to relay how you did this analysis as the original poster seems to be looking to do a similar task.
    – Eric S
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 20:48
  • @EricShain , I am the original poster. I did search for the regular expression claim.? [1-9] taking into account the xml dependent/independent tags.
    – Max
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 20:58
  • Sorry. I wasn't very observant there. You can accept your own answer. It is considered perfectly acceptable.
    – Eric S
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 21:34
  • Other readers may also be interested on how you did this analysis. Commented Jul 8, 2018 at 20:34
  • @FranckDernoncourt, I've created an SQL database of USPTO patents and patent applications by parsing XML files provided by USPTO itself and then written a Python script to read through all records and log into text file. The key point is to search for regular expression claim.? [1-9] in every claim.
    – Max
    Commented Jul 9, 2018 at 18:25

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