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USPTO: Comments about Grayscale and Color Drawings

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    david
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    Patent Office Rules & Regulations October 9, 2014

    The USPTO prefers that patents be illustrated with clear, black-and-white line drawings, but they also accept grayscale and color drawings if what is illustrated cannot be represented as “line art”.

    When filing online through EFS-Web, you must choose between document code DRW and DRW.NONBW according to the rules quoted below. In order to include color drawings, you must also submit a petition explaining why color drawings are necessary, per 37 CFR 1.84(a)(2).

    Note that the PTO will store two versions of non black-and-white drawings — the original, and a black-and-white version — the latter of which may lose some image quality in addition to losing any color.

    For international drawings, color is not permitted: at most you may include grayscale photos or drawings. Because of this, as well as the obstacles to using color drawings even with the USPTO, our office prepares drawings in grayscale and black-and-white unless a client specifically requests color drawings.

    Occasionally, the color content we are asked to formalize will not readily conform to being represented in black-and-white or grayscale, in which case we might query our client regarding their intentions.

    Legal Framework for EFS-Web, section H

    Document Description for Photograph and Drawings: Users must select the correct document description when submitting photographs and drawings via EFS-Web. Selecting an incorrect document description may cause the photographs and drawings to be processed in a quality that is not sufficient for examination and publication. Applicant must select:

    1. “Drawings – only black and white line drawings” (document code “DRW”) for the following:

    a. Black and white line drawings in: (i) provisional applications under 35 U.S.C. 111(b); (ii) nonprovisional utility patent applications under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), including reissue utility patent applications; (iii) international applications and national stage applications under 35 U.S.C. 371; and (iv) reexamination proceedings for utility patents. These drawings will be converted into TIFF images and stored in IFW.

    b. Black and white line drawings, grayscale drawings, photographs, color drawings, and other drawings that are not black and white line drawings in design patent applications, including reissue design patent applications, and reexamination proceedings for design patents. These drawings will be stored in SCORE, and a black and white copy will be stored in IFW along with a SCORE placeholder sheet.

    2. “Drawings – other than black and white line drawings” (document code “DRW.NONBW”) for the following:

    a. Photographs, color drawings, grayscale drawings, and other drawings that are not black and white line drawings in: (i) provisional applications under 35 U.S.C. 111(b); (ii) nonprovisional utility patent applications under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), including reissue utility patent applications; (iii) national stage applications under 35 U.S.C. 371; and (iv) reexamination proceedings for utility patents. These drawings will be stored in SCORE, and a black and white copy will be stored in IFW along with a SCORE placeholder sheet.

    b. Black and white photographs, and grayscale drawings, in international applications. These drawings will be stored in SCORE, and a black and white copy will be stored in IFW along with a SCORE placeholder sheet.

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