What Are Examples of Patent Drawings?

Examples of Patent Drawings can consist of charts or illustrations that you use to illustrate an invention for a patent application. If your drawing would help a reviewer understand what your invention does or how it looks, you need to include a patent drawing with your application. Most patent applications will require at least one drawing, so you should understand the elements of an effective patent drawing.

Here are a few examples of patent drawings to help illustrate the drawing formula:

Why Are Examples of Patent Drawings Important?

Simply stated, patent drawings make your patent application stronger, more detailed, and easier to understand.

Being specific and as detailed as possible with your descriptions and your drawings are key to securing a patent. If you can show that your product or design has more nuances or features than what exists as prior art (previously existing designs or products), then you are more likely to prove that your invention deserves its own patent.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) allows you to leave out some details in your drawings, but ignoring details may create problems. Generally, you can omit features shown in the description or claims if they are not essential to properly understanding the invention. However, you should mark these features in your drawing with a symbol or labeled representation.

What Are the Rules for Creating Patent Drawings?

The USPTO has a list of rules you must follow when submitting patent drawings. Failure to follow the guidelines means you'll have to wait for your patent filing date. This delay leaves the door open for competitors and risks the loss of your intellectual property.

Patent drawing examples also help you know what specifics to show and what broad ideas to add to the drawings.

In general, patent drawing examples show design patents and utility patents. Design patents are objects such as furniture and jewelry. Utility patents show how a machine or process works. Most of these drawings are in standard black and white, although color examples are available. These color options are only accepted by the USPTO if they're better suited to illustrate the product.

The Manual of Patent Examining Procedure outlines all the necessary guidelines including:

  • Submit on 11-inch by 8.5-inch or A4 white paper
  • Use black India ink
  • Label formulas, charts, and diagrams in the same way as drawings
  • Center the title of the invention, inventor name, and application number at the top of each page
  • Left and top margins are 1 inch, the bottom margin is 3/8 inch, and the right margin is 5/8 inch

When making a detailed patent drawing description, you should compile a separate list of the invention's parts. You can add any necessary reference numbers to the list. A written description allows you to:

  • Keep reference numerals in order so that you don't use the same number for two different parts
  • Keep your descriptions clear so that you don't use the different words to describe the same parts
  • Offer an easy way for the patent illustrator to immediately identify parts or reference numbers of the invention

When Wouldn't You Use Examples of Patent Drawings?

You may have inventions that relate to a chemical compound, a process, or procedure being claimed. In these instances, a patent drawing may not be required.

For some patent applications, an inventor may hire a patent illustrator. A patent illustrator is a professional who uses your ideas to sketch a quality drawing of your invention. This service can cost between $100 and $125. For inventors who don't have the time or patience to make their own drawings, hiring a professional may be more convenient.

Reasons to Consider Using Patent Drawing Examples

For first-time patent submissions, following a patent drawing example allows you to make your own drawings without the help of a patent illustrator. Even if you decide to hire a patent illustrator, you need to know the basic layout of the drawings, what should be included, and an idea of how many illustrations to add to your application.

Think about patent drawings not as one drawing, but as many drawings as you need to give patent application reviewers an in-depth visual of your invention.

Another reason to consider using patent drawing examples is that they help you find competitors in the market. From these similar ideas, you can draw an illustration that's on par with other examples in the industry. The more complex your idea, the more patent drawing examples help you put your ideas into visual form.

What's Included in Patent Drawing Examples?

When you use patent drawing examples, you can get a new perspective of which views to use. Some of these views include:

  • The standard six views including front, back, left, right, bottom, and top of the invention
  • Perspective views, which show depth, contour, and surface texture
  • Exploding views, which show how one part of the invention works when in use
  • Sectional or cutaway views, which show a cross-section of the invention
  • Block diagrams and flowcharts to simplify the working process of the invention

Patent drawing examples also show how 2D and 3D patent drawing software, such as computer-aided drafting, compares to freehand. For the artistically challenged, these programs make the drawings simpler to prepare. Even a hand drawing is greatly enhanced when coupled with patent drawing software. If you're unfamiliar with the software, the inventor needs to at least know some of the drawing techniques used which can be useful to the patent illustrator.

Examples can also help you in drawing the moving or mechanical parts of your invention. Using arrows, you can describe what each part of your device does, leaving no gray areas. Arrows also help keep your references straight, keep your words in order, give a better overall impression, and teach people how the device works, even without a description or legend. If you don't want to use arrows, you can use multiple drawings which show each of the parts in each of their positions.

When you're planning to submit a patent, you can check other patents in your field, which can offer examples for you to follow. These examples will also show you what other items need to be included in the patent description such as:

  • Title
  • Technical field
  • Background information
  • Prior Art
  • Description of how your product solves a problem
  • Figures
  • Description of your invention
  • Examples of intended use

By using a drawing example and description example, you help ensure global patent protection to protect your creation worldwide.

Why Would You Want to Create Patent Drawings Yourself?

Other advantages of doing the drawings yourself include:

  • Promotional preparation for potential manufacturers
  • Better drawing creations because you know the product better than a hired patent illustrator
  • No confusion when describing the invention to someone else
  • Self-satisfaction upon completion of the drawing 

Common Mistakes

One of the most common mistakes with patent drawings is not looking at and studying patent drawing examples before drafting your own illustrations. Since you have no references, your drawings will lag behind someone who has taken the time to research how a patent drawing should be constructed.

Not wanting to spend extra money also leads inventors to suffer in their drawing ability. For example, you could pay a patent illustrator $100 to $125 for a drawing and use that example to guide your own drawings. With patent drawing, a few hundred dollars goes a long way to making sure you get the patent you deserve.

Patent drawing examples are also a great way to avoid infringement. In the case of Egyptian Goddess v. Swisa (a case where Swisa sold a nail buffer similar to an Egyptian Goddess patented design), a patent drawing was the only evidence that separated a new product from an old one. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that Swisa copied aspects from more than 400 patents that existed in prior art, evidence that an invention already exists, using the point of novelty test. This test considers elements of an invention that are known from those features that are unknown.

What About Examples of Patent Drawings With Provisional Patents?

Provisional patent applications don't need drawings. Thus, many inventors never consider including them. The provisional patent gives you up to a year to file a non-provisional patent, but including drawings is a way to build your craft at making patent drawings. Even if the drawings aren't your finest work, you can learn the basic way to make a patent drawing, especially if you follow a few examples.

Steps to Draft a Patent Description

Along with your drawing, you should have a detailed description. Make sure to include these aspects:

  • Title of invention: The title needs to be precise, specific, and no more than 15 words. For example, if your invention is a new wrench design using a novel soft grip, a title that works is "Wrench with Enlarged Soft Grip." Don't name anything after a person, a trademark, or use the words "new" or "improved". Others should also find your titles easily with a search.
  • A broad statement that provides technical use:  Describe how your invention solves a broad problem.
  • Add background information: Always give more detail than you think necessary to make people understand the invention. With the wrench example, this detail could include: "People with disabilities and weakness in their hands, such as people with arthritis, often have great difficulty in using tools that require grip strength, such as hammers, wrenches, and screwdrivers."
  • Describe prior art:  Prior art is some type of published media that pertains to your invention. At this point, you need to start to differentiate your invention from other sources. Some of these sources include:
    • Previous patent applications
    • Technical literature
    • Advertisements
    • Lectures that discuss the invention (at this point, applicants often refer to other existing patents)
  • Describe the problem it solves in a specific sense: Make sure to show how your invention is different from all others. This description builds upon describing the prior art. The more detail included, the better your description is.      
  • List the figure number and brief description of each drawing: Refer to drawings throughout description while using the correct figures and consistent terminology. 
  • Provide a detailed description: Always include more information rather than leave out details. 
    • For a utility, describe each part and how those parts work together. 
    • For a process, describe the starting material, how the change gets made, and the result or product. 
    • Chemical formulas should include the process and structure to make the compound.  
    • Describe all possible alternatives such as different materials that you can use. Make sure to include these alternatives to prevent others from copying your idea based on using other materials to create the same product.
    • Describe in enough detail so that another inventor, using your description, could re-create your invention.
    • Describe why your method works best over other methods.
  • Provide an example of your invention's use.
  • Review and edit your work: Check for typos, consistency, grammar, numerals, and terminology. A separate list can be useful if you aren't the best editor or fact checker.
  • Let an attorney take care of draft claims.

Need Help With a Design Patent?

If you need help filing a design patent or have questions about patent drawing examples, you can post a job request and connect with attorneys through the UpCounsel markeplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies such as Google, Stripe, and Twilio.