How patent drawings are reviewed at USPTO?
The Office of Patent Application Processing (OPAP) performs an initial review of patent drawings in new utility and plant patent applications to determine whether the drawings can be effectively scanned for publication purposes. Design applications are not published, and patent drawings filed in design patent applications are not reviewed by OPAP for publication purposes. The standard of review employed by OPAP is such that most drawings, including those that have been indicated by an applicant to be “informal drawings,” will be acceptable.
OPAP inspects the drawings to see if they can be effectively scanned and adequately reproduced. If the drawings are not acceptable, OPAP will object to the patent drawings and notify the applicant that timely submission of acceptable drawings (e.g., drawings which can be scanned) is required.
Under the OPAP review process, OPAP may object to and require corrected patent drawings within a set time period, if the drawings:
- (A) have a line quality that is too light to be reproduced (weight of all lines and letters must be heavy enough to permit adequate reproduction) or text that is illegible (reference characters, sheet numbers, and view numbers must be plain and legible). See 37 CFR 1.84(l) and (p)(1);
- (B) have missing lead lines. See 37 CFR 1.84(q). Lead lines are those lines between the reference characters and the details referred to;
- (C) contain excessive text or text that is not in English (including, for example, a flow chart that was originally not in English that has been marked up to include the English text). See 37 CFR 1.84(o) and (p)(2) and 37 CFR 1.52(d);
- (D) do not have the appropriate margin or are not on the correct size paper. See 37 CFR 1.84(f) and (g). Each sheet must include a top margin of at least 2.5 cm. (1 inch), a left side margin of at least 2.5 cm. (1 inch), a right side margin of at least 1.5 cm. (5/8 inch), and a bottom margin of at least 1.0 cm. (3/8 inch). The size of the sheets on which drawings are made must be either 21.0 cm. by 29.7 cm. (DIN size A4) or 21.6 cm. by 27.9 cm. (8-1/2 by 11 inches);
- (E) have more than one figure and each figure is not labeled “Fig.” with a consecutive Arabic numeral (1, 2, etc.) or an Arabic numeral and capital letter in the English alphabet (A, B, etc.). See 37 CFR 1.84(u)(1);
- (F) include photographs of the claimed invention which are capable of illustration by another medium such as ink drawings, and which are illegible after scanning. See 37 CFR 1.84(b); and
- (G) contain color drawings or color photographs, but not a petition to accept color drawings/ photographs. Note that the requirement for a black and white photocopy of any color drawings/photographs has been eliminated.
If OPAP objects to the drawings and sends the applicant a Notice requiring the submission of corrected drawings within a set time period (usually two months), corrected drawings must be filed, in a paper, to the mailing address set forth in the Notice, along with any other items required by OPAP, to avoid abandonment of the application. No fee will be necessary for filing corrected drawings which are required by OPAP. Otherwise, in most situations, patent application publications and patents will reflect the quality of the drawings that are included with a patent application on filing unless the applicant voluntarily submits better quality drawings as set forth in MPEP § 1121.