Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Can We Use Photos for Design Patent?

Dear Rich: We're getting ready to file a design patent for some gaming gloves and have not been able to get formal drawings done. We're in a hurry. Can we use photos instead of drawings? As a general rule, it's best to submit drawings. They can be prepared fairly quickly by many patent drawing services (or at least so they claim on the web). Type "patent drawings" into your search engine. As for using photographs in a design patent application, you can use them under the following circumstances:

  • Color photos. The USPTO only accepts color design photos on "rare occasions" if they are the only practical way to show the design. You must file a petition explaining why the color photographs are necessary. 
  • Black and white photos. You can use black and white photos if they are "the only practicable medium for illustrating the claimed [design]." We can't tell you if your gloves qualify under this standard but you can read more about the USPTO's standards for patent drawings

Also, you can furnish informal drawings with your application although the USPTO will not examine your application until formal drawings are furnished. By the way, we've created a design patent site where you can read more about design patent drawing rules.