What are the requirements for drawings in a design patent?

Glenn W. Peterson

When you submit a design patent application for your California invention, you need to include drawings. However, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has very specific rules and guidelines you must follow when creating your drawing. If you fail to follow these directions, your application may be denied.

According to the USPTO, the drawing is the most important part of your patent application. You can submit a drawing or a photograph, which both usually must be in black and white. You should never submit drawings and photographs in the same application, though. Whatever you submit as your drawing must be complete. Anything not included or missing could alter the patent protection. This means you need to submit various views of the design, such as views from the top, bottom, front, rear and sides.

A description must be submitted of the drawing, too. This allows you to clearly explain the design and what is seen in each view of the image. If there are parts of the image that are identical, you are usually fine just explaining this in the description and do not have to submit two drawings of the identical parts. Any view not provided in the drawing should be clearly explained in the description to avoid any issues.

It is also essential the drawing shows contours and dimensions of the design, especially those that are three-dimensional. Shading should be used to show these things, but complete black should not be used unless it is showing the color black in the design.

The image depicted in the drawing should only be of the design. However, if it must be shown on something or in use, then the surrounding items that are not part of the actual design need to be indicated by a broken line.

While black and white drawings are preferred, color drawing and photographs may be used in some cases. You must first submit a petition asking for permission to use color. You must have a compelling reason why color must be used for this request to be granted. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.