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USPTO: Breaking Up Figures

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    david
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    By October 14, 2014Patent Office Rules & Regulations
    As mentioned previously, figures may be broken into multiple parts for clarity, with each part labeled FIG. followed by a figure number and a capital letter. For example, to break up FIG. 9, the first sub-figure will be FIG. 9A, the second FIG. 9B, and so forth. In addition to using this method to identify a group of related drawings, it can be applied to single drawings that must be broken into partial views across multiple pages.

    If it would be difficult to understand how the pages would be arranged to form the complete figure, then we show where connections occur from one page to the next via broken lines along the shared edges, typically identified by circled letters at each end of the line. This clarifies how the various pages should be arranged, and ensures that the entire figure can be understood as a whole. It is recommended by the PTO that an index figure be included to show how the assembled figure would appear all together. When using an index figure, it should be labeled with a figure legend matching the partial figures: in the above example, the index figure would be labeled FIG. 9.

    The most common reason for breaking up a drawing in this way is to conform to Patent Office rules with regard to margins and minimum text size in the drawings.

    Upon client request, we do occasionally use “(CONT.)” or “(Continued)” in multi-page figures, but only if the client used this label in the informal drawings, and did not receive an objection from the Patent Office.

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