Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Patent drawings must adhere to strict USPTO rules

Companies or individuals in New Jersey and around the country must submit drawings with their patent applications when visual information is needed to explain what their inventions do or how they work. While these drawings are not required to be museum-quality works of art, they do have to adhere to strict guidelines laid down by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Patent drawings should be produced using black ink and printed on plain white paper, but USPTO rules allow for color to be used when black ink would not adequately describe the invention. However, the use of color must be approved by the USPTO prior to submission. Printing should be limited to only one side of the paper, and photographs are only permitted when a sketch would be impractical. The USPTO also sets strict rules dealing with matters such as paper size and margin spacing.

Several patent drawings may be submitted if a single image does not convey completely what the invention does, and important areas may be enlarged to show more detail. Drawings should also remain legible and still convey the nature of the invention when reduced to two-thirds size. While outline drawings are accepted by the USPTO, shading is welcomed when it makes the invention easier to understand. The USPTO favors numbers over letters for notations, and portrait rather than landscape orientation is preferred.

Attorneys with experience in patent law may encourage their clients to check their patent drawings and supporting documentation carefully before submitting them to the USPTO. Protecting inventions can mean the difference between success and failure in a fiercely competitive global economy, and incomplete or ambiguous applications could lead to delays or rejections that provide competitors with unnecessary opportunities.

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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