When submitting an application for a patent, the drawings will be an essential and integral part of the application. Proper drawings are very important: drawings that don’t comply with patent office specifications, or that don’t clearly help explain your invention, can result in delays or rejection of your patent application.
You have three choices for how to prepare your patent drawings:
- You can have the law firm preparing your patent application take care of the drawing. This is the most expensive solution: in addition to paying whoever actually does the drawing, they will charge you a markup.
- You can hire a patent illustrator (such as Invention Patent Drawings) to do it for you. This will save you money compared with having your law firm take care of it, while ensuring that the drawings will comply with all relevant patent office specifications. Our prices typically range from US $30 to US $60 per drawing depending on complexity.
- You can do the drawing yourself, either by hand or with the aid of patent drawing software. This could be shortest turn around (if you’re not busy), and will be least expensive (if you consider your time “free”). If your time has value, option 2 is probably less expensive, since an experienced patent illustrator will get the job done in less time.
If you decide you want to do the drawings yourself, make sure you check the specific requirements for the national patent office you are submitting to. For example, the requirements for a US patent can be found on the US Patent and Trademark Office website here.
Information on ten software packages that can be used to create patent drawings follows. The more fully-featured and easy to use programs are available for purchase or license; we look at five of them, and we have information on five free packages.
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Purchased or Licensed Patent Drawing Software
SmartDraw (Any operating system) can create flowcharts, engineering & CAD diagrams, etc., quickly. It combines automated diagramming with built-in templates. It’s web-based, so it works with any device that has an internet connection. PCMag gives it a rating of 4/5. A subscription costs $120/year.
CorelDRAW (Windows, Mac) is a state-of-the-art tool with enhanced pen and touch facilities with font management and filtering. CoreDRAW is one of eight applications that come with CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2018. It is suitable for Windows 10, 8.1, and 7. They also released a Mac OS version in April 2019. PCMag gives it 4/5. It can be purchased for a one-time payment of $499, or an annual license of $199. A reference manual is available to purchase.
3. Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Illustrator (Windows, Mac) is an industry-standard vector graphics app. You can use it to create drawings, typography and illustrations for print, web, video and mobile. The latest version has a lot of improvements to existing features. PCMag rates it 4.5/5, “editor’s choice.” It’s available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for $240 for an annual license, of $29.99/month.
4. OmniGraffle 7 for Mac
OmniGraffle 7 (Mac and iOS only) is easy for beginners to get started on and is great for creating precise and beautiful graphics. The package includes stencils, view options, auto layout, a point editor tool and touch bar support. It’s rated 4.7/5 on the Mac App Store. The standard version is available for a one-time purchase of $150. The Pro version with additional features is $250. There’s a 14-day free trial that includes all the pro features.
DraftSight (Windows, Mac, Linux) has 2D and 3D versions. It’s a powerful professional-grade CAD program that includes productivity tools and an API. It comes in three versions: Standard for $99/year, Professional for $199/year (adds time saving functions and an API) and a Premium version for $499/year that supports 3D. An on-line manual is available.
Free Patent Drawing Software
6. GIMP Image Manipulation Program
GIMP – GNU Image Manipulation Program (Windows, Mac, Linux) is a free and open source image editor. If the basic program doesn’t provide what you need there are plenty of ways in which you can add to it with 3rd party plugins. There are on-line tutorials for the beginner.
FreeCAD (Windows, Mac, Linux) is a parametric 3D modeler. Designs can be constructed, shared and amended with ease. It can handle files in many formats including STEP, IGES, STL and DAE. The software is highly customizable and scriptable and supports many CAD formats. You can go back and forth from 2D to 3D. Some users have found it tricky to use at first.
Inkscape (Windows, Mac, Linux) is a free tool that is both flexible and powerful. It can be used for object creation, object manipulation and fill and stroke. It has an impressive array of transformations including moving, scaling and rotating which can be used interactively or by entering exact numeric values.
9. LibreOffice Draw
LibreOffice (Windows, Mac, Linux) is a free to download office suitewith a word processor, a spreadsheet, and a drawing function which is called Draw. Drawn enables the user to produce complex and detailed drawings and diagrams. It is very suitable for producing technical drawings as it allows the user to manipulate graphical objects and to group them and crop them.
SketchUp (all operating systems), formerly Google SketchUp, comes in both free and paid versions. We have a detailed review of SketchUp you can read here. The free version has a lot of limitations, the biggest being that it’s 3D only; the “Shop” version for $119/year offers greater interoperability and customization; the “Pro” version for $299/year adds a lot more features including extensions, 2D support, and a style builder.
In addition to the programs listed above there are some other programs that can help with the drawing process. A few examples are PDFSam which can split and merge PDF documents and eDrawingswhich is a file viewer that works with many formats.
Even with a free software package, if you take into account the time it will take you to learn the package, familiarize yourself with the rules of the patent office, etc., you might find it much more cost effective to have us create your patent drawings for you. Click to learn more about our quality, our process and turnaround times, and pricing.