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The Different ‘Line Types’ Used in Patent Illustrations

Unlike general drawings, each and every component of a patent illustration has a definite meaning, including ‘lines’. We can’t just draw any line and submit it to the patent office. Patent offices like USPTO have clear guidelines on using lines and thus with this article we have come up with some information regarding different ‘line types’ that draft persons use while making a patent illustration.

Correct usage of lines is important for the purpose of making correct use of the illustrations and making them more presentable. These lines help to make clear illustrations that clearly explains the patent examiner about the invention in a more detailed way.

In this article, we will learn about 5 basic line types that we usually come across while making a drawing for patent applications.

Various Line Types Used in Patent Illustrations:

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.

Phantom Line: This is another important kind of line 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 a patent application. Unlike solid lines, a phantom line appears as dash dot dot dash or dash-dot-dash lines.

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 appears 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.

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.

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.


To sum up, we can say that drawing a line in a patent illustration is not as simple as drawing lines for other purposes. We need to understand the purpose of each line and PTO rules to represent them in a drawing, failing which can cost you rejection of the patent application in consideration.

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