Patent drawings are visual illustrations that aid in describing the invention in your patent application. However, patent drawing requirements in your jurisdiction must be complied with for a valid patent application. This article covers 5 key aspects that you need to consider while preparing patent drawings.
Include multiple drawings:
You should include several drawings, while explaining various facets of your invention. Not only the drawings help a reader in visual understanding of your invention, they also help them in a quick overview of the main aspects of your invention. Even the Examiners can quickly focus on some key aspects of your invention by browsing through the drawings instead of laboriously traversing several pages of the specification.
As an example, you can try to include several different views – top/front/side views, block diagrams or circuit diagrams, flowcharts/process diagrams, tables, prototype illustrations, product illustrations or any visual illustration that you think can help a reader get a practical understanding of the invention.
However, keep the irrelevant drawings out while doing this. The drawings should be detailed but strictly relevant to your inventive concept.
Keep drawings neat and clean
The patent law in each jurisdiction has specific requirements on the neatness and legibility of drawings (margin size, paper/sheet numbers, margin contents etc.). However, there are some basic factors that you can consider while creating your drawings.
Paper type – Prepare the drawings on an A4-size sheet (on a computer), which is more or less standard across jurisdictions.
Margins – Leave adequate margins on each side of the page. A 1.5-2 inch margin is more than sufficient on each side and should keep your drawings legible in almost all major jurisdiction. However, you (or your patent professional) may check these requirements in your jurisdiction of interest and prepare drawings accordingly.
Black and white drawings – Black and white drawings are accepted in every major patent office and are normally the standard way to prepare drawings. Some jurisdictions (Indian, US etc.) accept colored drawings as well if the invention demands it. However, a petition and corresponding fee (specific to jurisdiction) needs to be submitted while submitted colored drawings. Unless the nature of the invention demands submitting colored drawings, you can do just fine with all black and white drawings.
Patent drawing numbering
In most jurisdictions, it is mandatory to add reference numerals or reference signs to drawings. Reference numerals are essentially numbers to denote separate parts/steps of each drawing. You can look up drawings of any patent publication and you will find these numbers representing different parts of the drawings.
The reference numerals make it easy for a reader to find different parts while reading your specification. Conversely, while writing the specification, you should ensure to mention every reference numeral in the specification and describe the corresponding part in the description section. Some jurisdictions like India and Europe have an additional requirement to mention these reference numerals in the claims as well.
Therefore, you should look up the requirements on reference numerals in your jurisdiction of interest and add them accordingly.
No hand drawn images
The drawings should be formally created and rough sketches should be refrained from. Although complicated drawings can be created on softwares such as Visio or Autocad but simple drawings can be created using basic softwares such as MS powerpoint or even Windows Paint.
There is a high risk of getting drawing objections if the drawings are loosely drawn, hand-drawn or are unclear. The only exception where you can file hand-drawn images is a provisional specification, where there are no strict requirements on formal drawings because an urgent filing is required. Even in this case, rough-sketches should be used as a last resort for filing and only if you don’t have the time or resources to file formal drawings. Filing unclear drawings may still lead to priority issues if the subject matter is not adequately covered in the provisional filing.
Show claim features in patent drawings
Illustrating claim features in the drawings is a great way of providing support for your claims. For instance, for process claims, you should try to use similar or same wording as claims in the flowchart. For device/apparatus claims, you can try to show the exact components in the drawings as claimed. This will force you to describe them in the specification and thus, ensure claim support in both the specification and drawings. Later during prosecution, this explicit support helps avoid support-related objections from the Examiners.
Hope the above excerpts gave some useful insights into how can great drawings be created to minimize issues later. Please subscribe to this blog for more patent related updates.