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The Rules For Patent Drawings

From Mary Bellis,
Your Guide to Inventors.
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Rule 1.84 Standards For Drawings


There are two acceptable categories for presenting drawings in utility and design patent applications.

Black Ink
Black and white drawings are normally required. India ink, or its equivalent that secures solid black lines, must be used for drawings.

On rare occasions, color drawings may be necessary as the only practical medium by which to disclose the subject matter sought to be patented in a utility or design patent application or the subject matter of a statutory invention registration. The color drawings must be of sufficient quality such that all details in the drawings are reproducible in black and white in the printed patent. Color drawings are not permitted in international applications under patent treat rule PCT 11.13, or in an application, or copy thereof, submitted under the electronic filing system (for utilty applications only).

The Office will accept color drawings in utility or design patent applications and statutory invention registrations only after granting a petition filed under this paragraph explaining why the color drawings are necessary.

Any such petition must include the following:

  1. patent petition fee 1.17 h - $130.00
  2. three sets of color drawings, a black and white photocopy that accurately depicts the subject matter shown in the color drawing
  3. An amendment to the specification to insert the following to be the first paragraph of the brief description of the drawings: "The patent or application file contains at least one drawing executed in color. Copies of this patent or patent application publication with color drawing(s) will be provided by the Office upon request and payment of the necessary fee."


Black and White
Photographs, including photocopies of photographs, are not ordinarily permitted in utility and design patent applications. The Office will accept photographs in utility and design patent applications, however, if photographs are the only practicable medium for illustrating the claimed invention. For example, photographs or photomicrographs of: electrophoresis gels, blots (e.g., immunological, western, Southern, and northern), auto- radiographs, cell cultures (stained and unstained), histological tissue cross sections (stained and unstained), animals, plants, in vivo imaging, thin layer chromatography plates, crystalline structures, and, in a design patent application, ornamental effects, are acceptable.

If the subject matter of the application admits of illustration by a drawing, the examiner may require a drawing in place of the photograph. The photographs must be of sufficient quality so that all details in the photographs are reproducible in the printed patent.

Color Photographs
Color photographs will be accepted in utility and design patent applications if the conditions for accepting color drawings and black and white photographs have been satisfied.

Identification of Drawings

Identifying indicia, if provided, should include the title of the invention, inventor's name, and application number, or docket number (if any) if an application number has not been assigned to the application. If this information is provided, it must be placed on the front of each sheet and centered within the top margin.

Graphic Forms In Drawings

Chemical or mathematical formulae, tables, and waveforms may be submitted as drawings and are subject to the same requirements as drawings. Each chemical or mathematical formula must be labeled as a separate figure, using brackets when necessary, to show that information is properly integrated. Each group of waveforms must be presented as a single figure, using a common vertical axis with time extending along the horizontal axis. Each individual waveform discussed in the specification must be identified with a separate letter designation adjacent to the vertical axis.

Type of Paper

Drawings submitted to the Office must be made on paper which is flexible, strong, white, smooth, non-shiny, and durable. All sheets must be reasonably free from cracks, creases, and folds. Only one side of the sheet may be used for the drawing. Each sheet must be reasonably free from erasures and must be free from alterations, overwritings, and interlineations.

Photographs must be developed on paper meeting the sheet-size requirements and the margin requirements (see below and next page).

Sheet Size

All drawing sheets in an application must be the same size. One of the shorter sides of the sheet is regarded as its top. The size of the sheets on which drawings are made must be:
  1. 21.0 cm. by 29.7 cm. (DIN size A4), or
  2. 21.6 cm. by 27.9 cm. (8 1/2 by 11 inches)

Next > Margins and Views

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