Patent Application Drawings & Diagrams
By law, patent applications are required to have drawings or illustrations enclosed if they are needed to allow the invention to be understood.
Setting "compositions of matter" aside, this requirement essentially means every invention requires an accompanying diagram or illustration in order to be considered for a patent grant. And even with the composition of matter, a drawing could be a useful supplement to the application.
Your invention drawing must showcase every feature of your invention that is specified in the claims of your patent application.
Required Form For Patent Application Drawings
The USPTO requires patent drawings and diagrams to be in a very particular form.
The size of the sheet on which the drawing is made is specific, as is the type of paper, the margins, and other details.
For regular (non-provisional) utility patent applications, each page should be saved in PDF format and submitted with all other application documents via EFS-Web, an electronic submission system.
Words and/or text are not permitted as part of the illustration unless it is necessary ("indispensable" is the word the USPTO uses).
Patent Drawing "Sheet" (Page) Size & Dimensions
Each page which contains a view of your invention is called a "sheet".
Standard sheet size for patent applications is on A4 paper. The measurements for this paper are as follows:
The margins of each sheet should measure as follows:
The sheets must not contain frames around the usable portion of the page. The final usable surface of each sheet should measure no more than 17 cm x 26.2 cm.
The English alphabet must be used for letters, except in cases where another alphabet is customarily used. For example, the Greek alphabet is typically used to indicate angles and mathematical formulas.
Views On Each Patent Illustration Sheet
Your patent application drawings should contain as many views as are needed to successfully convey the invention in detail.
Think about different degrees, angles, sections, elevations and perspectives when drawing each view. One trick is to pretend you are drawing each diagram so someone who is completely ignorant to your invention idea can conceptualize and visualize the end product.
In some cases, you may take one small component and blow it up to a larger scale for one of your drawings just to convey in detail how the component works, looks, or interacts with other components. These are called "partial views" or "sectional views", depending on what is being displayed in the graphic.
In some cases when displaying a specific view of the invention, there is a need to represent a third dimension. Shading your diagram can effectively represent that depth. Cross hatching, or hatching, is a technique where the inventor uses intersecting sets of parallel lines to represent the shadow. Solid black shading is not permitted.
All views of your drawing must be grouped together and arranged "without wasting space, preferably in an upright position, clearly separated from one another", and must not be included in the sheets containing the specifications, claims, or abstract.
Page Numbers (And Other Numbers) In Your Patent Diagram
Since patent information is published publicly, the regulations and criteria that govern the standards of patent drawings are in place to help with understanding, consistency, and uniformness. Each diagram on its own separate sheet should be consecutively numbered in Arabic numerals (translate -> numbers), starting with 1, and the page number should be within the usable surface.
The laws are very specific around every detail of the drawing. So specific that they say each page number must be placed in the top middle of the sheet, never in the margin.
Page numbers can be placed on the right-hand side if and only if the drawing extends too close to the middle of the top edge of the usable surface.
Your actual patent diagrams will most likely contain numbers or number combinations. The page numbers must exceed the size of the numbers in your drawing.
Each page will display two numbers. The first number is the sheet number, or page number; the second is the total number of drawings you have included with your application.
The title of your invention as well as your name can also be displayed in the top margins of your illustrations. If you already know information such as your patent application number, that may be included as well.
Including a contact phone number is permitted as well in case your patent examiner cannot match a drawing to your application. Phone numbers should be placed in a discrete place, not interfering with any renderings of the invention.
Numbers, letters, and reference characters must measure at least .32 cm (1/8"). These characters should not interfere with the understanding of the illustration; if the characters cross other lines it can disqualify the drawing.
Standards For Patent Drawings
The illustrations that accompany your patent application must be sketched with certain very particular standards adhered to.
First, the drawings must be black and white. White paper (sheets) with black ink, to be exact. Some opt for black indian ink as a compromise.
Where the invention requires, color ink or color drawings may be necessary.
Color can be used when it is the only practical approach to successfully describing your invention's features through the drawing. The USPTO will allow color renderings only after an explanation is filed by the inventor.
Should you need to use color to convey the invention, quality cannot be compromised. The quality should be so that a reproduction of the drawing could be output in black and white and easily distinguished.
Including Pictures (Photographs) With Your Patent Application
The USPTO does not typically allow photographs as an accompaniment to design or utility patent applications.
Like color drawings, the USPTO will only accept photography with the application if it is truly the only practical medium you as the inventor can use to illustrate your invention.
Typically, photographs will only accompany "composition of matter" applications, where things like cells and other substances can not practically be sketched or drawn. The photographs, if approved, should be black and white, mirroring the criteria of drawn patent illustrations.
Also like the requirements of a color drawing, photographs that are pre-approved to accompany your patent application must be of a high enough quality that they can be reproduced in black and white via photocopy and understood without difficulty.
Color Photographs With Your Patent Application
Color photographs are acceptable by the USPTO in specific scenarios. They are accepted for both utility and design patent applications.
The requirements for accepting color renderings (drawings/illustrations) and black and white photographs must both be satisfied in order for the USPTO to consider accepting your color photographs.
Technical And Graphic Drawings With Your Patent Application
Formulas, charts, signal graphs or tables may be submitted as drawings that accompany your patent application. These mostly come into play for the submission of chemical or mathematical formulas. They are subject to the same requirements as other drawings.
Like your drawings, which are separated on different sheets, each formula graphic submitted must be labeled as a separate figure (FIG. 1.0, 1.1, 2.0, 2.1, etc.).
Other Factors To Consider When Drawing Your Invention
Albeit necessary to submit qualified invention drawings with your patent application, there are other use cases for these illustrations. Inventors should consider the multi-purpose nature of the output when creating their drawings.
Ultimately your invention has to sell - and that happens in many stages of the process. You may be selling to an investor. You may be pitching your idea to a manufacturer or potential licensor. Drawings can be incredible assets that accompany your prototype in these situations.
One recommendation is, while you are creating your patent drawings, also consider other types of renderings of the invention. Your patent illustrations can be a foundation, and these other drawings can "break the rules" by using various mediums, colors, techniques, etc.
Another consideration is that your invention drawings do not need to adhere to the same rules in the case of provisional patent applications. These other drawings you'll create to accompany the invention can be used for PPAs.
Patent illustrations, overall, follow a very strict set of guidelines and rules. The rules aren't in place to make things difficult for inventors, they are a means of creating consistency in process and uniformness in output.
If you need assistance with producing your patent drawings, let us know how we can help.
VIDEO: How To Create Patent Drawings