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Patent Illustration: Key Tips to Remember

A patent illustration is the visual embodiment of a patent description in patent applications. Their purpose is to elucidate the invention clearly. The illustrations may include diagrams, flow charts, chemical equations, standard views, reference numbers and photographs (only in special cases) of the invention. Every jurisdiction has a set of rules which you need to adhere to while rendering your patent illustration. More often than not, these guidelines are very similar with minor changes. Keeping this in mind, USPTO also has a unique set of guidelines that makes US patent illustrations stand out. The basic idea is simple, the illustrations should help you in making your case and not impede it.

Related Article: Patent Draft: Major Core Principles

This article explains everything you need to know about a patent illustration.

Patent Illustration: Key Points to Remember

1.     The requirement of Patent Illustration

Your application must have at least one patent illustration to explain your invention better. Apart from the fact that it aids your explanation of the invention, it’s a requirement under the US Patent Law.  Your application might face rejection if the description is vague or generic. The reason is that this makes it easier to find an overlapping prior art for it. Your explanation of the invention needs to be elaborate and distinct. Hence, including a patent illustration is always advisable.

2.     Ease of explaining the invention (An example)

Let’s take a look at the patent description of an invention. We’ll let you guess the invention just by reading the description and then show the image for more clarity.

A toy device which includes a central dome structure and a skirt is used as a spinning toy. It is designed to be spun on the finger to provide enjoyment and entertainment for adults and children. It is formed of a thin-walled finger placement dome area of sufficient width and depth to provide room for initial eccentric rotation with the rotation centered along the entire inner wall. Providing rotational balance is a skirt balance area that is divided from the dome area by a step demarcation section/inner joint where the area joins the skirt balance means and aids a user in retaining a finger in the said area during spinning.

What do you think it is? It looks like some kind of a spinning toy but you can’t quite guess the exact geometry and shape. Now, let’s look at this image.


What you are looking at is the patent illustration of the popular toy “fidget spinner”. Looking at the image, it’s much easier to guess what it is. This is exactly why it’s very crucial to include illustrations in your application. An examiner can get a hint of what your invention is, but the illustration will make it absolutely clear.

Also Read: Significance of Patent Proofreading

3.     Basic guidelines to follow

Your drawings need to include detailed flow charts and diagrams. These help the reader understand the intricate parts and/or steps involved in the correct order. If your invention is a physical object, you should cover all the angles; top, bottom, and all the sides. Another point to remember is that all views should be drawn in portrait, facing in the same direction.

The USPTO has a set of specifications that you should follow while creating a patent illustration. It should have the following specifications:

  • All illustrations must be in black and white unless a part of the invention needs color to explain it.
  • Always use India ink on all drawings.
  • Ensuring that the drawing is to scale is key. When the USPTO reduces the illustration to two-thirds the size while publishing, there shouldn’t be any loss of information.
  • Each drawing should include the invention name, name of the inventor, and application number.
  • Submit all illustrations on a white A4 matte paper that is flexible and strong. Dimensions should be 21cm x 29.7cm or 21.6cm x 27.9 cm.
  • Margins should be as follows:
    • 2.5 cm on the top
    • 2.5 cm on the left side
    • 1.5 cm on the right side
    • 1.0 cm on the bottom
  • The superimposition of drawings should not happen.
  • You may use symbols and legends if necessary to describe the invention.
  • Avoid solid black shading except on bar graphs or to represent color.
  • Use lead lines to redirect the reader from the drawing to the associated symbol in the description.

Need a professional illustrator? – PatSketch

​If you fail to comply with these standards, the examiner may raise objections about your illustrations during patent examination. This might affect your chances of getting a patent. In order to ensure that this doesn’t happen, hiring a professional illustrator is highly advisable. If you require a patent illustrator, PatSketch is at your service. Our experienced experts are skilled in the widest range of software/technologies to cater to all your needs. Our team has thorough and in-depth knowledge about the latest US Patent Laws and acceptable practices. We believe in 100% satisfaction of our customers. To ensure this, we are willing to make any number of iterations. We offer timely solutions at very affordable prices because we don’t want to overburden your pocket.

To make an inquiry, contact us on PatSketch.

Other Related Articles:

Unusual Patents You Never Have Thought Of

Patent a Process in the US: A Complete Guide

Patent Drawings Resources

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