Patents 101: Three Tips on Patent Drawings – A Guest Post by Darius Gleason

In addition to posts on patent analytics and strategy, I thought some of my readers would be interested in patent prosecution tips. Since I am not a patent attorney I thought I would ask some of my readers to supply content on the process of filing for, and prosecuting patent applications. In the first Patents 101 post, Darius Gleason of The Intellectual Property Law Offices of Darius Gleason, a fellow Anteater, provides tips on patent drawings for utility applications.

If you have any intentions of applying for a patent, you’re going to need a patent drawing. A patent drawing is a necessity in many stages of applying for a patent, and should always be included to help document your invention. It is never enough just to describe and discuss an invention; drawings show the details that sometimes can’t simply be explained.

Even so, there isn’t one specific outline on how to create a patent drawing. For one, there is a distinguishable difference between design, and utility patents. A design patent protects the way your invention may look, while a utility patent protects the way your invention may be used. Both patents can be obtained if the invention has both a utility, and a decorative appearance. Because of these differences, separate patent drawings are required for the two different types of patents. Patent drawings for design patents are required to be extremely detailed, and sometimes even allows for pictures to be taken. Patent drawings for utility patents, on the other hand, are not always necessary, therefore they are only required if the drawing helps to better understand the subject matter.

1) Drawing or Drawings?

At least one patent drawing is necessary in an application; however this is usually not enough to convey the different aspects of your invention. A patent drawing considers every small component of the invention, be it different parts, articulation methods, or even just how it works. Your patent drawings should describe your invention generally, but also in increasing detail. The bottom line of patent drawing is that it should include depict all sides of the invention as well as the components, if you believe you can show this in one drawing, more power to you.

2) It’s All in the Details

To provide your invention with maximum security, your drawings are expected to be as detailed as possible. Your patent lawyer will be sure to check for these small details that will help any viewer better understand your invention. Some important specifications to consider include drawing only in black ink, only on rare occasions is color permitted. Never try to force your invention onto a single drawing, consider sectional views that allow for better understanding of the internal work and basis of your work. Lastly, always remember to include symbols and legends to help clear the busy details away from your drawings and focus them in a single descriptive area. There

Even if you are considering bypassing the details, remember that there is an expected standard of detail required for your drawings. These requirements usually include margins, identification, type of paper, views, shading, and the list goes on and on. As just a rule of thumb, always remember that the more descriptive you are, the better the drawing.

3) Who Should do the Drawing?

More likely than not, you should not expect your patent attorney to be able to do the job, but he or she should be able to refer you to a professional patent illustrator. Relatively speaking, they usually aren’t too pricey and you can expect a high quality drawing. These professionals understand the ins and outs of patent drawing, and are familiar with the expected standards as aforementioned.

Many inventors think they can save money by creating their own drawings; however there is a regulatory constraint on just about every aspect of a patent drawing, as aforementioned. Taking this single task alone, without a professional, will usually result in extra money, and time wasted going through the many drafts that ultimately might not even be accepted. More likely than not, your patent attorney will urge you to hire a professional patent illustrator, which will always be in your best interest.

A picture truly is worth a thousand words. Patent drawings can be a lot of work for a single person, so never try to take it on alone. Asking for help from a consultant, attorney, or any patent professional will help cut cost, and time in the protection of your invention.


Dr. Gleason has prosecuted dozens of Trademarks and Service marks, maintains several trademark portfolios for a wide range of clients seeking help with intellectual property law, including trademarks in foreign countries and trademarks under the Madrid Protocol. Dr. Gleason has experience in Domain Name Arbitration as well as domain and trademark litigation under the U.S. Lanham Act. Dr. Gleason and has participated in the prosecution of dozens of Utility Patent Applications including responding to a wide range of USPTO Office Actions.

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