I am working to organize the 23,414 API related patents from between 2005 and present day, submitted by 4,283 companies — present in my API patent research. Not all of these APIs are "web APIs," but I think each company's portfolio tells a lot of what they are doing with APIs, their motivations behind them and is also a reflection on the overall state of the industry.
To help me better understand the growth in API-related patents, I'm slicing and dicing the data and publishing in different ways — I recently dumped the number of patents by year and published as a D3.js bar chart.
It is pretty depressing to see the growth in patent applications that mention "application programming interface." I'm not sure what this means, but I know it can't be good for making the web work. I'll keep slicing and dicing things and see if I can keep deriving any meaning from it all. I'm thinking I will publish each company's patent portfolio by itself as I work to profile each company to see what they are up to with APIs.