In order to obtain a patent from the U.S. government, patent drawings are typically necessary to adequately describe the invention in sufficient detail. In some cases, inventors have not made a prototype. As a result, they are unsure if they are able to file for a patent. A patent attorney is able to work with the inventor to sufficiently create patent drawings based on the invention. In many cases, the patent drawings are the first step towards creating a product.
No New Matter
Once a patent has been filed, no new matter may be included in that patent application. This goes for drawings as well. Lets face it, it is common practice to continue to improve upon the invention well after the first, second, or even third patent application is filed.
In the event that new aspects of the invention are developed, a new application can be filed to protect the new information. Typically this is done by filing a continuation-in-part (“CIP”) patent application, or by filing a new patent application that does not claim the benefit of a prior application. Which strategy to employ varies for every situation as there are numerous factors to consider when improving upon the originally filed invention.
Failing to provide drawings that properly disclose the invention from the patent office’s vantage point can result in losing patent rights to important aspects of your invention. It is crucial to allow a patent attorney to draft your application—including production of professional drawings—to avoid common pitfalls.
Patent Drawing Views for Structures
Drawings are typically made with a variety of views. The views can vary depending on the goals of the particular patentee. The part of the invention that is being protected can affect the types of views that will be necessary. For example, a utility patent may include a perspective views, orthogonal views, exploded views, cross sectional views, isometric views, side views. In contrast, a design patent is going to require views to show the surface of the object being patented.
- Perspective views – A perspective view shows a three dimensional view on the drawing sheet. It should depend what could be seen in a real life view of the object.
- Orthogonal views – An orthogonal view is based on the viewers eyes being centered over a particular side of the object.
- Exploded views – An exploded view shows the parts of the invention disassembled and spread apart. Further, and exploded view may depict how the parts would fit together in operation.
- Cross sectional views – A cross sectional view shows the invention sliced through a portion thereof. In many cases, patentees seek protection on portions that cannot be seen from the exterior invention. These views allow the public to understand the layers or inner beings of the invention.
- Isometric views – An isometric view is an equal measurement view from exactly between three orthogonal views.
- Side views – In patent law, an inventor can be their own lexicographer. In this instance, a side view can be any view in which the viewer’s eyes are centered over the view point. Side views could include a top, bottom, side, or etc of the invention.
Detail Requirements of Patent Application
The drawings must be “enabling”. This is to say that the drawings must provide enough detail to enable a person of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention without undue experimentation. This does not mean that EVERYONE has to understand what is being invented. However, because the examiner is likely a lay person, it is best to try to explain the invention to the level that most individuals would understand. Also keep in mind that a patent may be challenged in court. From a practical standpoint, you want the judge, and their law clerks, to understand what is being protected.
Matching the Specification
While it is not required, it is best practices to include elements mentioned in the specification. Again, only enough detail to allow an hypothetical person of ordinary skill in the art to make or use the invention is required. Thus, it is possible to leave out certain features that are described in the specification. In many cases, the decision to include or exclude features can become a matter of economics. It should go without saying, however, that more detail in a patent application is preferred over less detail. There may be particular instances where features are excluded so to remain a trade secret, however, that feature will not be afforded protection under the patent laws.
Patent Drawing Dimensions
A common question that is asked relates to the dimensions. Engineering drawings include dimensions. The dimensions should not be placed in the drawings because the dimensions itself are the not structure shown in the drawings. If the dimensions are important to the invention, the dimensions should be described in the specification of the patent application.
How Many Drawings Do I Need?
There is no set number of figures required in a patent application. However, rarely will just one picture accurately depict the invention. It is best practice to work with the patent attorney to determine how to best protect not only the invention that you contemplated, but also to protect various embodiments not yet contemplated. In addition, a patent search can help build upon your invention and help to development additional patent drawings. That is one reason why a patent search is always recommended to clients.
Inventions with Moving Parts
Inventions with moving parts may be illustrated in a variety of ways, including arrows, ghost lines, and multiple figures.
Patent Drawings for Processes and Methods
Processes and methods, including computer processes, also generally require drawings in the form of block diagrams, electrical schematics, and flowcharts.
- Block Diagrams – A computer system, or other electrical device, can be represented as a block diagram.
- Electrical schematics – Electrical schematics can be useful to help one of ordinary skill in the art make and use an invention. Parts that help describe the invention should be designated and referenced in the patent application.
- Flowcharts – Flowcharts depict the processes or steps in a method. The flowchart includes operation indicators include boxes to represent processes, diamonds to represent decisions, and parallelograms to indicate inputs and outputs. Lines connect the flowchart to indicate the flow of the steps in the process.
Shading is an important part of patent drawings to depict the contours, textures, colors, and materials of the invention depicted in the drawings.
Patent drawings take knowledge and practical experience to understand how to best protect your invention. There are many other factors to consider. Leave it to a Tucker Law Patent Attorney to help you best protect your invention.
Contact a Tucker Law Patent Attorney
If you have any questions, contact a patent attorney with Tucker Law today. With an office conveniently located in Fort Lauderdale, Tucker Law services clients throughout South Florida, including West Palm Beach, Broward, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami-Dade. Call the Firm toll-free at 1-800-TUCKERWINS or or send us an email through the Firm’s website. A firm attorney will contact you for a free consultation.
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