The Evolution of Patent Drawings

The first U.S. Patent Act was established in 1790 and the United States Patent and Trademark Office only requires a drawing in the patent applications that contributes to better understanding the invention. Only it is not required, including illustrations of your invention strengthens your claim and acts as a supplement to the written sections.

 The Patent Cooperation Treaty outlines all of the regulations and specifications for completing a drawing. The patent drawings you have typically seen are of simple black lines, cross sectioned and labeled in an almost graphical manner. But this has not always been the case.

The first U.S. Patent Act was established in 1790 and the United States Patent and Trademark Office only requires a drawing in the patent applications that contributes to better understanding the invention. Only it is not required, including illustrations of your invention strengthens your claim and acts as a supplement to the written sections. 

The Patent Cooperation Treaty outlines all of the regulations and specifications for completing a drawing. The patent drawings you have typically seen are of simple black lines, cross sectioned and labeled in an almost graphical manner. But this has not always been the case.

In the early years of patent applications, the drawings featured intricate and detailed images, resembling that of a painting. They were colorful, on simple parchment, and often featured human-like models.  Official draftsmen were typically hired to draw an invention many centuries ago. In addition to drawings, miniature models of the invention were also required until 1880.

As technology changes and cultures shifted, the drawing for patent requirements did along with it. In the early stages of patent drawing, a professional draftsman required a substantial amount of money, contributing to a large portion of the application cost. In modern times, patent illustration costs vary depending on the complexity of the invention and how many sheets are created. 

Today, the USPTO requires drawings to be colorless, black, well-defined, and without words or phrases that do not contribute in understanding an invention’s mechanisms.

The drawing must show every feature of the invention that is specified in its claims and to abide by further rules. 

Take a look at a patent drawing for an e-cigarette. The image is labelled in a way that can be referenced and further explained in the rest of the patent application. 

A picture is worth a thousand words. Because patent drawings must adhere to the Patent Office rules, it is recommended to work with a professional patent illustrator, our modern day draftsmen. With their expertise and experiences, they can provide a detailed drawing that captures the claim of your invention. Ensuring that your patent illustration is done correctly is another important piece to the patent application puzzle. 

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