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USPTO & PCT: Page and Text Orientation for Drawings

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      Patent Office Rules & Regulations October 20, 2014

      Portrait Vs Landscape: Both the USPTO and the PCT prefer that figures be aligned in portrait view on the page; but both do allow that figures be arranged in landscape view as well, so long as all figures on a given page are oriented in the same way. Additionally, any such landscape-view sheets must be laid out so that the tops of the figures would be on the left side of the sheet as viewed in portrait view — see FIG. 1 below. (USPTO 37 CFR 1.84(i) and PCT Rule 11.13(j) below)

      So far as text itself goes, the PCT does not seem to have any specific rule regarding orientation, save what might be construed from the requirement that all drawing text “shall be simple and clear” (Rule 11.13(e)). However, in absence of specific instructions we follow USPTO preferences as listed below.

      PCT Rule 11.13 (e) & (j)

      Special Requirements for Drawings

      …(e) All numbers, letters and reference lines, appearing on the drawings, shall be simple and clear. Brackets, circles or inverted commas shall not be used in association with numbers and letters.

      …(j) The different figures shall be arranged on a sheet or sheets without wasting space, preferably in an upright position, clearly separated from one another. Where the figures are not arranged in an upright position, they shall be presented sideways with the top of the figures at the left side of the sheet.

      The USPTO, on the other hand, requires that all text be laid horizontally on the page according to whichever sheet orientation is being used, save in the case of labeling the axes on graphs. Because of this, we opt to keep all text horizontal in relation to its associated figure, except for in the case of extremely cramped graph-labels, in which case we align the text vertically. This is often the best compromise between keeping the text “simple and clear” and using the page-space as efficiently as possible.

      37 CFR 1.84(i)

      (i) Arrangement of views . One view must not be placed upon another or within the outline of another. All views on the same sheet should stand in the same direction and, if possible, stand so that they can be read with the sheet held in an upright position. If views wider than the width of the sheet are necessary for the clearest illustration of the invention, the sheet may be turned on its side so that the top of the sheet, with the appropriate top margin to be used as the heading space, is on the right-hand side. Words must appear in a horizontal, left-to-right fashion when the page is either upright or turned so that the top becomes the right side, except for graphs utilizing standard scientific convention to denote the axis of abscissas (of X) and the axis of ordinates (of Y).

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