Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Can I Use Provisional Patent Drawings in Regular Patent Application

Dear Rich: I have submitted a provisional patent application with eight drawings using Inkscape software. Five drawings show four embodiments (uses for my invention). The drawings are good quality, but are not quite up to utility patent standards. Would I need to re-draw all of them and submit when I file for a regular utility patent, or could I reduce the number of drawings and rely on the previously submitted provisional patent drawings as evidence should someone infringe on one or more of the embodiments? If your drawings are not up to the USPTO's formal requirements -- for example, they have blurred lines -- you will receive a notice stating that your application will not be examined until you file replacement drawings. It is only after your drawings meet formal standards, that your file will be sent to an appropriate examining division. So, filing with informal drawings will delay patent examination. (Note: It's possible for a lay person to create suitable patent drawings -- check How to Make Patent Drawings for information on doing your own). In general, most applicants pay for the services of a professional draftsperson and you can find such services using an Internet search engine (expect to pay $100 or more per drawing).
Embodiments?  It is likely in your best interest to include as many embodiments as possible in your regular patent application (keeping in mind that you cannot rely on your provisional application's date, if you have modified what you are claiming in the regular application). According to Patent It Yourself author,  David Pressman, the more ramifications and embodiments you can think of, the broader your patent claims will be interpreted, and the more you’ll be able to block others from obtaining patents either on devices similar to your invention or on improvements to it. Also, you may have something to fall back on if your main or basic embodiment is “knocked out” by prior art that your search didn’t uncover or that surfaced after your search.