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What is a Patent Drawing?

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  • Written By: Donn Saylor
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 05 December 2016
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A patent drawing is a visual illustration of an invention. Depending on an inventor's geographic location, patent law may or may not require that all new inventions be accompanied by a patent drawing, which demonstrates the various parts and functions carried out by the invention. Regardless of whether or not a patent drawing is optional, many inventors choose to submit an illustration as part of the patent application; this aids in further presenting the aspects and duties of the invention for which the provisional application is being submitted.

There are several items that inventors typically include in a patent drawing. In addition to proper identification and labeling of each drawing, this form of patent visualization commonly features highly detailed sketches, complete with shading, symbols, legends, and arrows. A patent drawing is usually presented on standard-sized paper that is sturdy yet flexible. Patent offices tend to prefer black and white illustrations, though some types of inventions may necessitate the use of color.

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The drawings also illustrate more than one view of the invention, highlighting how the object looks and functions from an array of angles. A patent drawing might be sketched from any number of perspectives. These might include partial and sectional views, which spotlight smaller, specific areas of the invention, or an exploded view, in which the parts of the object are separated to show how they fit together in the end product. Another popular view style is a modified form, which illustrates different ways the end product can be assembled.

While not all jurisdictions require a patent drawing, those that do have very specific rules that must be adhered to. Even those areas that don't call for patent drawing will generally have certain guidelines that must be followed should an inventor choose to submit an illustration. Inventors are typically advised to check with their local patent office to ensure they meet the necessary specifications when drawing up their patent illustration.

In Europe, for example, the submission of a patent drawing is entirely optional. Under the rules set forth by the European Patent Convention, inventors are only required to include drawings when said drawings are mentioned in the patent application. If an inventor chooses this route, his or her drawings are legally protected as part of the patent claim.

The United States, on the other hand, makes patent drawings a required part of the patent application process. When an inventor files an application, he or she must include a patent drawing. United States patent law stresses that all aspects of the invention referred to in the application must be accompanied by an illustration.

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