Getting the Most Out of Your Patent Designs – Intellectual Property


Drawings are an essential part of any patent application for a device or design that requires a visual representation of the functions and concepts involved. It is essential that all inventors provide the best possible patent drawings so that examiners quickly understand the invention presented in the application, thereby increasing the likelihood of a patent being granted.

Although drawings are not required to accompany a patent application filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO), or intellectual property regulatory agencies (IP ) in other jurisdictions, there are few situations in which it is feasible for a patentable creation to be sufficiently explained in writing only. For this reason, it is recommended to provide illustrations or drawings when filing an application.

Here, we’ll take a look at the fundamentals of patent illustration and the steps you need to take to produce appropriate drawings for your utility or design patent application. Of course, we will look at general examples of the use of patent drawings, and it is recommended that you seek expert advice for your own case.

What is a patent illustration?

Many articles fall under the umbrella term of patent illustrations – not just designs of the article to be patented. Flowcharts, sectional or cross-sectional views and diagrams should also be considered as illustrations, as are “exploded” views describing the relationship between (and the assembly steps of) various parts of an invention in detail. enlarged.

Basically, just about any two-dimensional visual representation of an invention you hope to patent is probably an illustration. Photographs can sometimes be included in the “illustrations” category, but with several caveats.

Generally speaking, patent examiners do not want to see photographic representations of an invention or design, unless it is impossible or impractical to present the invention in another visual way. For example, if you need to display crystal structures, as may be the case with some pharmaceutical or life science patent applications, photographs are the only possible way to illustrate such details.

Patent examiners disapprove of photographic representations of an invention or design, but welcome various illustrations such as flowcharts, sectional or sectional views, and diagrams.

Whenever photographs are essential to your patent application, most judicial authorities – including the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in the case of applications submitted under the Patent Cooperation Treaty ( PCT) – prefer images to be black and white. Some agencies will accept color photos, but with additional limitations: the EPO will scan, print and distribute the images only in black and white. The USPTO, meanwhile, requires applicants to submit a petition separate from the application explaining why color is necessary and will assume that the color used is an integral part of any granted patent, unless a disclaimer stating the opposite is not included. Finally, the PCT applications completely prohibit color photographs.

What are the rules for patent designs?

Many of the more detailed specifications for patent designs relate to size and spatial orientation. Most patent and trademark offices around the world prefer the paper to be A4 (8 by 11 ¾ inches or 21 by 29.7 centimeters), although some accept the US standard of 8 ½ “by 11” ( 21.6 by 27.9 centimeters). The margin requirements are just as specific, with the USPTO stipulating the following minimum margins for pages containing drawings or diagrams: the top and left sides must both be at least 2.5cm, while the right margins and lower should be 1.5cm and 1cm, respectively. What’s more, most patent offices prefer designs to be in a vertical position rather than in a horizontal, landscape-style orientation.

Just like photographs, drawings should also avoid color and use black ink on unglazed white paper. If you can convincingly state that color is essential to your application, it may be okay, but in most cases it is not worth the time and cost and may cause your filing date to be delayed.

As to what the drawings themselves contain, there are few restrictions. You must represent the invention or design from as many different perspective views as necessary to show all of the surfaces of the object proposed in the application. All figures showing each specific sectional view should be together and face the same direction. If you are using sectional drawings, use slanted hatches so that none of the separate representations obscure any leader lines or reference marks throughout the illustration.

Drawings should also avoid color and use black ink on unglazed white paper. In addition, most patent offices prefer illustrations to be in a vertical position rather than a horizontal, landscape-style orientation.

Since the designs will be reproduced at approximately two-thirds of their original size during the review process, they should not be drawn in such a way that a small reduction would prevent details from being discernible. In addition, numbers are the best choice for reference characters. If letters must be used, observe the alphabet corresponding to the region. Last but not least, you should try to avoid words in the drawings, but if they are necessary, use the language of the competent court. In the European Union, it would be English, French or German; in the United States, English.

How can you make your patent designs more effective?

Compliance with the rules described above, adapted to the relevant patent offices, is essential to the success of your patent application. Patent offices are extremely busy and often late and, as such, may seize the opportunity to reject a patent application on the basis of even minor non-compliance. It is also essential to carry out a prior art search before filing in order to be able to demonstrate the novelty of your invention as well as possible.

Beyond meeting the requirements of the patent office you are filing with, the main goal is to compose your designs with clarity. While the language used in your summary, description, and claims to the invention or design is vitally important, it is ultimately the details of the drawings that will have the greatest impact and convey the most information. For patent applications, a picture is really worth a thousand words.

Given the complexities involved, the best and most cost-effective choice for you may be to leave the responsibility of drafting the patent and preparing the drawings to the experts at Dennemeyer. Using the services of a global intellectual property law firm to file a professional patent application is a proven way to maximize the chances of getting a patent. Our local offices around the world are well equipped to meet your drafting needs in accordance with the regulations and established practices of jurisdictions around the world.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.


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