How to Avoid USPTO Rejections in Patent Drawings

How to Avoid USPTO Rejections in Patent Drawings: Fred R. Barnard once said – “a picture speaks a thousand words”. This phrase holds particularly true in the case of drawings which are regarded as a universal language. Use of drawings hold considerable significance in the case of inventions that can often be more easily explained through drawings than through descriptions.

Accurate and clear patent drawings strengthen and enhance patent applications, helping patent examiners who are already overburdened with lots of applications, to understand inventions faster.

In this article, we will be covering the essential points on the importance of patent drawings and how we can make the drawings feasible for filing at the USPTO office. We will also cover some important guidelines to help you to avoid receiving unwanted office actions (OA).

Let us start by understanding why Patent Drawings are required in USPTO?

As you can see here in the example below – a blurred picture has been converted into line drawings to look more accurate and precise.

Let’s make it more clear with few more justified points on what essential role drawings have in USPTO filings:

Clarifying the Claims: Besides the ornamental part, drawings help in understanding the claims of the patent. Simple, clear, and precise images also help to instruct judges in cases of patent infringement, often clarifying the patent owners’ claims and clinching the decision in their favor.

Amendments: At times, drawings can even make the applicant understand his or her invention better and that is why drawings can also work to the advantage of patent holders in negotiating damages or a settlement and ensuring that the drawings are descriptive enough to represent the patent.

Prevents Infringement: This is one of the most important benefits of drawings. An accurately prepared drawing makes the patent understandable and unambiguous, which may mean potential infringers will think double about plagiarizing. And as we know that the earlier infringement is deterred, the better it is for patent owners.

Therefore, it is suggested to not underestimate the importance of drawings in their applications and since USPTO has firm rules and regulations regarding patent drawings, it is best to work with a professional patent illustrator who has the knowledge, technique, and skills to create high-quality patent designs and helps you in converting your idea, invention or vision into drawings with all precision.

Differences In Guidelines Of USPTO For Utility & Design Patents

Several universal rules followed by different patent offices and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) for international applications specifies how patent drawings are to be created and submitted in its 142 contracting states.

Therefore, some requirements are universal to all patent offices although there are some differences between drawings for the USPTO and PCT filings.

The main difference is the size of the paper on which drawings can be submitted:  

PCT:  The PCT only accepts A4 size pages, which is also why it is the most acceptable page size around the globe.

USPTO: While USPTO allows both letter size paper or A4 size paper, it is an important point to be kept in consideration while choosing USPTO for patent filing.

Apart from this,  getting a patent approved by the USPTO can only be done by following these main guidelines which have some different & common points for Utility and Design drawings:

Utility: Direct Submission:

which states that drawings should not be filed directly to the office. There should be a proper black and white line drawing which is highly preferable by almost all of the judiciaries along with USPTO.

USPTO Rejections in Patent Drawings

Also, when you are filing a patent through drawings, the sheets should be free from any folds, or crease.
Additionally, it is also a rule to use only one side of each sheet.

 • Using of color or Greyscale image:

Not all Patent offices permit photographs to be used instead of black and white line drawings. However, there are some jurisdictions along with USPTO such as  WIPO, INDIA,…. where photographs are permitted to use on rare occasions only. The photographs can only be used if it is the only practical medium to disclose the invention. For example – cell diagrams, plants, vivo images or microorganisms are ones that cannot be achieved via line drawings.

USPTO Rejections in Patent Drawings_Using of color or Greyscale image

However, the black and white line drawings are the most preferable and accepted by almost every PTO office.

• Margins:

This is an important point and can be seen as one of the major error in most of the USPTO rejections. Therefore, it is advisable that the drawings should be kept in sheets within a certain marginal area as defined by the guidelines like it should be.

(top: 2.5cm; leftside: 2.5cm; right side: 1.5cm; bottom: 1cm)


• Types of Views:

In order to make your utility drawings self explanatory and descriptive as per the requirement of the patent, you can prepare:

• Perspective View

• Isometric View

• Detailed View/ Enlarged View

• Partial View

• Sectional View

• Partial Sectional View

• Exploded View

• Assembled View

• Numbering of drawings:

After placing all drawings, the views should be numbered in Arabic numerals in continuation from the number 1. Example figure. 1, 2 and 3…and so on.

• Text Size:

The important aspect which leads to an office action is the size or the height of the font which has to be at least 0.32cm. Any context less than 0.32cm in size is not permitted.

• Numbering of Sheets:

Similar to figures, all the sheets contained in the USPTO application shall be numbered in consecutive Arabic numerals – where the numbers shall be centered at the top or bottom of the sheet, but shall not be placed in the margin.

Numbering of Sheets

• Alterations:

It is advisable that each sheet should not have any alterations. It should be clean, neat and should not have any kind of stain, overlapping, many crossing lines, erasures, overwriting or any leftover marks of a photocopy.


Non-compliance with this rule may be authorized if the genuineness of the content is not in question and the requirements for good reproduction are not at stake.

• Later document:

So the response must include the corrected drawings with replacement sheets where the figures with the defects are replaced by the amended ones. Over here, we must avoid adding any new matter to the patent, else it can cause another rejection.

Later Document

• Other special requirements for drawings:

This involves all the other factors in a drawing that can be responsible for approval or rejection of a patent.

Some of these are – drawings with durable, black, sufficiently dense and dark, uniformly thick and well-defined, lines and strokes without colourings.

Cross-sections indicated by oblique hatching should be clear. Numbers, letters and reference lines should be neat and as per the standards.

These were the guidelines that are important for utility and although most of them are common for design drawing, there are still few differences in guidelines for design patent drawings such as:

• Design:

1. Differentiating the claims
: It is most essential to differentiate the claimed portions from the rest of the parts.

Differentiating the claims

For example, the area where we show the parts which are not considered as claimed design, in the dash or broken lines, in order to differentiate them from the claimed ones. It is also done for proper as well as easy understanding.

2. Types of Views: The guidelines suggest that the claims of design can be better understood with standard design views such as front, rear, right and left sides, top and bottom. Also a perspective view can be added to clearly show the appearance and shape of the design in three-dimensional format.

3. Scaling & Projections: Unlike the utility patents, applications for design patents rely fully on the drawings where scaling and projections of views as well as parts are really important to maintain the consistency of drawings and features throughout the set.

Scaling & Projections

4. Surface Shadings: This is a notable difference that irrespective of a few other countries, USPTO requires all surfaces of drawings to be appropriately and adequately shaded: “Shading should be such that shows clearly the character and contour of all surfaces of any three-dimensional aspect of the design.”

Surface Shadings

This requirement makes USPTO design drawings appear more artistic than those of most other countries as they do not include shading or broken lines. Design drawings with surface shading and broken lines are acceptable under USPTO.   

Final Thoughts

The above listed guidelines are some of the different regulations for Utility and Design Drawings under USPTO and how such simple information can be helpful to avoid unwanted office actions that can dig a hole in your pocket. Sagacious IPs Patent Drawings Support team helps businesses in drafting patent applications that not just meet the patent office requirements, but also make the draft future-proof. Click here to know more details on this service.

-Ankur Sharma (Illustration) and the Editorial Team

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