Patent drawings also called as patent illustrations are one of the most important elements of a patent draft. If made prudently and wisely, it can help you a lot in expediting the overall patent granting process. Not only it makes your idea clear and easy to understand but also helps owner put their point firmly in the Court in case of an infringement suit. However, unlike other kinds of normal drawings, making drawings for patents demands a fair understanding of patent drawing rules, acquaintance with the patent regulatory framework and an artistic approach towards drawing.
With this article, our main aim is to help people know every aspect of patent drawing, like when it is required, what are the rules for creating a patent drawing, what are the various views we need to put into and many other things that can be of importance to creating scientific illustrations.
Before we dive into other aspects of patent illustration, let’s understand what a patent drawing is and why is it needed at all in the first place.
What is patent drawing?
Speaking broadly, a patent drawing is the visual and graphical representation of an idea or invention that is described in a patent draft. Though including a patent drawing is not mandatory as per the statutory rules, still, as an informed inventor, we should include it to have clear understanding of our idea or invention.
Why should we include patent drawings in an application?
There are many reasons for including a patent drawing to our application and some of them are below mentioned:
- Helps in Clear Understanding of the Invention
- Helps in drawing the attention of the Prospective Licensee
- Assists in putting your point firmly during Prosecution
- Expedite the overall patent granting process
Important rules for creating patent drawing: Unlike normal drawing, a patent drawing requires plenty of rules to be followed. All these rules are put-forth by reputed patent offices like USPTO and draft-person needs to follow them religiously, if these rules are not followed we may risk the rejection. Below are some of the important patent rules we need to follow while creating our patent illustration:
Size of the Drawing Sheet: The important patent office like the USPTO, have mandated the use of specific sheet size for patent drawings. The USPTO patent office allows only two kinds of sheet size a) 21 cm x 29.7 cm which is also called as A4 size and b) 21.6 cm x 27.9 cm which is used throughout the United States.
Showing features clearly: No matter whether you are showing a device, process or a design putting each and every feature of the invention in paper and that too accurately is important. Each feature of the drawing should be properly documented with both text and illustration to assure that the patent examiner fully understands the feature of the item without putting stress on their eyebrows. Failure to include all the details may lead to rejection of the patent.
For example, if you have a drawing of a mobile phone that has many features we need to show each and every feature of the mobile phone so as to have a clear understanding of the invention.
Neatness: Even if, you present each and every feature of your invention accurately but the drawing has strikethroughs, over writings and alterations you risk rejection. Though it is not documented anywhere that your patent illustration should be neat and clean still patent office like USPTO want you to present a neat and error-free drawing that is readable.
Legibility: Legibility is the ability to distinguish various letters and is another criterion a professional draft person needs to follow where each and every text, word and image should not overlap its adjacent element. Failing to achieve optimum legibility could lead to rejection of your application.
Readability: Readability is another criterion that is not documented anywhere but we need to follow it during this whole process. Spacing within words, between words and between lines must be such that the resulting text is again visually readable.
Visually Appealing: Not only you need to have a legible drawing but it should also be visually appealing where your drawing sheet should be devoid of folds, crakes, holes and creases.
Using Metric System: Any dimension and sizing information presented in a patent disclosure must be given in centimeters in case of small devices millimeters can be used. Though USPTO doesn’t forbid using English Engineering Units still they prefer metric system and thus we need to follow this rule as well.
Various line types used in a patent drawing
1. Solid Line: This is the most frequently used line-types that we can come across while drafting a patent application. The solid line represents the claimed portion of a design drawing.
2. Phantom Line: This is another important kind of lines that we encounter while making illustrations for patent. The Phantom line represents the disclaimed portion of a design drawing. Most often these Phantom Lines are confused with dashed lines and are used interchangeably which is not the appropriate way of putting a line on patent application. Unlike solid lines, a phantom line appears as dash dot dot dash or dash dot dash lines.
3. Hidden Line: Hidden lines are another important kind of lines those are used often in a patent illustration. These lines are generally used in Utility Patents and are sparingly used in other kinds of patents. This line type appear as dashed and are used when a line is obstructed by another part, device, or embodiment and that line needs to be disclosed for patent filing purposes.
4. Projected Line: Projected line is another kind of lines that are used widely in patent drawings and are used to represent a part or device that detaches or comes apart from another embodiment. These lines are mostly used in exploded views of drawings.
5. Boundary Line: Boundary lines are generally used in drawings for design patents to separate disclaimed areas on an embodiment from the claimed one. These boundary lines are represented as dash-dot-dash, just like we do in projected lines.
Views of a patent drawing
One of the most important elements of a patent drawing is ‘views’. For draft persons, it is better to include as many views as possible as it will convey our idea clearly and comprehensively. Some of the important views that we can include in our patent drawing are:
Isometric views: A pictorial representation of an object in which all three dimensions are drawn at full scale rather than foreshortening them to the true projection is called as Isometric view. An isometric drawing looks like an isometric projection but all its lines parallel to the three major axes are measurable.
Orthogonal and Perspective views: Though it is not mandatory for patent professionals to submit perspective view of a design, still, it is recommended as it allows examiners see the three-dimensional view of the design in an application. If a perspective view is submitted, the surfaces shown normally won’t be required to be illustrated in other views if these surfaces are clearly understood and fully disclosed in the perspective.
Sectional views: A sectional view can clearly bring out elements of the design. A sectional view presented to show functional features or interior structure that is not part of the claimed design is neither required nor permitted.
Duplicate views: If the left and right sides of a design are identical or a mirror image, a view should be provided of one side and a statement made in the drawing description that the other side is identical or a mirror image.
Exploded views: If your design has parts that are separable during normal use, you may include an exploded view.
Plain and un-ornamented view: A view of any side of a design which is plain and unornamented, such as the flat bottom of a speaker could help examiner get the real feel of your design.
Flat objects: A thin and flat object, such as a quilt, or an embossed design is also used to demonstrate the front and rear view of an object.
To know more on the various views of the patent drawing, please refer to this article.
Methods of creating a patent drawing
Manual method of creating patent drawing: There are mainly two methods through which we can create drawings for patents one is the manual method and the second one is the digital method. In the manual method, we used to create a patent drawing from scratch. Though drawing from scratch requires some basic drawing skills and if you enjoy drawing then it will be a fun. In this method, we make drawing by visualizing the object in mind, carefully sketching that visualized image on the paper with a pencil, correcting it unless it looks about right and finally inking in the lines.
Some of the important tools that are needed in this method are:
- Pencils for Preliminary Sketches
- Ink drafting pens for drawing ink lines
- Rulers for making straight lines
- Triangles for making angled lines
- Templates for making certain standard shapes
- Curve rules for drawing curve
- An optional drafting table
- High-quality ink drawing paper
Have a look at some of our sample patent drawings!
Digital method of creating patent drawing: These days, patent drawings or patent illustrations are created digitally; wherein we load our scanned object to designing software like ‘Computer Aided Designing’ (CAD) and create the illustration. Drawing with CAD offers many advantages compared to the traditional method, however, the draft person should be acquainted with the interface and functionalities of Computer Aided Designing (CAD).