Comparing Patent Drawing Requirements in the US and Europeadmin
Many inventors first apply for a patent in the US, and then seek the same patent protection in Europe. Both the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) affirm the importance of drawings to patent applications.
The USPTO says drawings are required if they are needed to understand the subject matter; they are almost always needed. The EPO emphasizes quality: “Good-quality drawings are very important for the correct disclosure of the invention.”
There are many similarities – and some differences – in the rules for patent illustrations in the US and Europe. The full USPTO requirements can be found online at Nonprovisional (Utility) Patent Application Filing Guide.The EPO requirements can be found at Guide for applicants: How to get a European patent (drawings), with links to additional pages on that page.
The USPTO requirements are much more detailed than the EPO requirements. You can see a summary of the USPTO requirements at our article “Complying with Patent Drawing Rules.”
In the following table we highlight the major differences and some of the similarities. When preparing a patent drawing for submission to either authority, please refer to the specific guidelines from the relevant office, linked above. The table is just to give you an idea of what’s different.
8.5” x 11” (21.6 x 27.9 cm)
A4 (29.7 cm x 21 cm). Further specifies paper must be used
top 1” (2.5cm)
left 1” (2.5cm)
right 5/8” (1.5cm)
bottom 3/8” (1cm)
Ink and lines
India ink or equivalent solid black lines
…durable, black, sufficiently dense and dark, uniformly
Sheets submitted electronically in PDF; drawings made by
There is an online form. 95% of patent applications at EPO
Photos not normally permitted; black and white
Photos are permitted. Color photos are scanned and
Other types of figures
Chemical or mathematical formulas, tables, computer
Flow sheets and diagrams are considered drawings.
Sheets may be numbered with consecutive Arabic
Sheets must be numbered in consecutive Arabic numerals, centered
Print size of at least 1/8” (.32cm
No text except if short keywords are indispensable to
Do not include any reference characters that are not mentioned in the description; be consistent in use of a given reference character.
Amendments are not allowed to include any new matter.
Every patent office has very specific requirements for patent drawings. When adapting a patent application from one jurisdiction for submission to another jurisdiction, special care must be taken to make sure the drawings being submitted comply with all the rules of the relevant patent office. Failure to comply with all of the patent drawing regulations may result in your application being delayed or denied.