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What is an independent claim?

In a patent or patent application, the claim is the precise legal definition of the invention, identifying the specific elements of the invention for which the inventor is claiming rights and seeking protection.¬†There are two types of claims. One is an independent claim, which is a claim that doesn’t rely upon or refer to any other claims in a patent. For example, in a patent for a pencil, an independent claim might start out, in legalese, as “a device comprising a cylindrical piece of wood with a piece of lead inserted into the center of the wood….”

The other type of patent claim is a dependent claim, which specifically refers to and relies upon another claim.¬† If the example independent claim from above was Claim 1 in a patent, Claim 2 could be a dependent claim for the same pencil with an eraser, and it might start, in legalese, as “a device as described in Claim 1, wherein a piece of rubber is attached to one end of the cylindrical piece of wood….”