The rules that apply to a patent application are wide and varied, and even the opportunity to clarify your pitch comes with its own guidelines. Following all the rules for submitting a drawing isn’t easy, and coming up with a qualifying document can be an art in itself.

Including drawings with your patent can be essential to convey how your idea works. But there’s so much more to it than just sketching out your design. Like every other part of the patent application, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has very strict requirements that you’ll need to follow to ensure your patent makes it through.

Drafting success

Your diagram, flow sheet or image likely all count as a drawing, and will need to follow specific rules:

  • Substrates: Your sheet will need to be white paper, with printing in black ink. The page must meet the measurements for an A4 document, at 29.7 cm by 21 cm. You’ll also need the correct margins, which vary between the sides, and no lines can fall outside that area. Black and white photographs are acceptable in rare circumstances, but they’ll still need to stay in-bounds.
  • Outlines: There’s no freehand here. You’ll probably need to make every stroke with drafting instruments. Those lines will need to be bold, deliberate and uniform while maintaining clarity even when the USPTO subjects them to resizing.
  • Adding in: You’ll need to clearly label your drawing with English, or Greek when appropriate for things like mathematic formulas, and Arabic numerals for differentiating multiple figures. These symbols can’t be more than 0.32 cm tall, and they must maintain a uniform purpose throughout your application.
  • Adding words: The USPTO doesn’t reject words, but blocks of text probably aren’t going to make the grade. You may be able to use a limited number of words when it’s absolutely necessary. It also matters where you place the text, as translations need to enter the picture without affecting the design.

And these are just the basics. It takes over 1,600 words to explain all the rules. Ensuring your patent gets the stamp of approval can be tough and making sure you stay within the lines is crucial.