37 CFR 1.74 Reference to drawings.
When there are drawings, there shall be a brief description of the several views of the drawings and the detailed description of the invention shall refer to the different views by specifying the numbers of the figures, and to the different parts by use of reference letters or numerals (preferably the latter).
The Office of Patent Application Processing (OPAP) will review the specification, including the brief description, to determine whether all of the figures of drawings described in the specification are present. If the specification describes a figure which is not present in the drawings or lacks any drawings if the application, other than a design application, is filed on or after December 18, 2013, the application will be treated as an application filed without all figures of drawings in accordance with MPEP § 601.01(g). If the application is filed prior to December 18, 2013 or is a design application and lacks any drawings, the application will be treated as an application filed without drawings in accordance with MPEP § 601.01(f).
The examiner should see to it that the figures are correctly described in the brief description of the drawing, that all section lines used are referred to, and that all needed section lines are used. If the drawings show Figures 1A, 1B, and 1C and the brief description of the drawings refers only to Figure 1, the examiner should object to the brief description, and require applicant to provide a brief description of Figures 1A, 1B, and 1C.
The specification must contain or be amended to contain proper reference to the existence of drawings executed in color as required by 37 CFR 1.84.
37 CFR 1.84 Standards for drawings.
- (a) Drawings. There are two acceptable categories for presenting drawings in utility and design patent applications.
- (1) Black ink. Black and white drawings are normally required. India ink, or its equivalent that secures solid black lines, must be used for drawings; or
- (2) Color. Color drawings are permitted in design applications. Where a design application contains color drawings, the application must include the number of sets of color drawings required by paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section and the specification must contain the reference required by paragraph (a)(2)(iii) of this section. On rare occasions, color drawings may be necessary as the only practical medium by which to disclose the subject matter sought to be patented in a utility patent application. The color drawings must be of sufficient quality such that all details in the drawings are reproducible in black and white in the printed patent. Color drawings are not permitted in international applications (see PCT Rule 11.13). The Office will accept color drawings in utility patent applications only after granting a petition filed under this paragraph explaining why the color drawings are necessary. Any such petition must include the following:
- (i) The fee set forth in § 1.17(h);
- (ii) One (1) set of color drawings if submitted via the Office electronic filing system, or three (3) sets of color drawings if not submitted via the Office electronic filing system; and
- (iii) An amendment to the specification to insert (unless the specification contains or has been previously amended to contain) the following language as the first paragraph of the brief description of the drawings:
The patent or application file contains at least one drawing executed in color. Copies of this patent or patent application publication with color drawing(s) will be provided by the Office upon request and payment of the necessary fee.
- (b) Photographs.—
- (1) Black and white. Photographs, including photocopies of photographs, are not ordinarily permitted in utility and design patent applications. The Office will accept photographs in utility and design patent applications, however, if photographs are the only practicable medium for illustrating the claimed invention. For example, photographs or photomicrographs of: electrophoresis gels, blots (e.g., immunological, western, Southern, and northern), auto- radiographs, cell cultures (stained and unstained), histological tissue cross sections (stained and unstained), animals, plants, in vivo imaging, thin layer chromatography plates, crystalline structures, and, in a design patent application, ornamental effects, are acceptable. If the subject matter of the application admits of illustration by a drawing, the examiner may require a drawing in place of the photograph. The photographs must be of sufficient quality so that all details in the photographs are reproducible in the printed patent.
- (2) Color photographs. Color photographs will be accepted in utility and design patent applications if the conditions for accepting color drawings and black and white photographs have been satisfied. See paragraphs (a)(2) and (b)(1) of this section.