Color Drawings & Color Photographs in Utility Patent Applications

Color drawings are acceptable in US patent applications, but not in international applications (see PCT Rule 11.13).

For utility applications, the following are required for submitting color drawings [see see 37 CFR § 1.84(a)(2)]:

  1. A petition explaining why the color drawings are necessary as the only practical medium by which to disclose the subject matter;
  2. Petition fee under 37 CFR 1.17(h); and
  3. The following language added as the first paragraph of the Brief Description of the Drawings: The patent or application file contains at least one drawing executed in color. Copies of this patent or patent application publication with color drawing(s) will be provided by the Office upon request and payment of the necessary fee.

If the statement was not included in the original specification upon initial filing, an amendment to the specification may be filed to insert the required language.

The same three requirements above for color drawings also apply to color photos in utility applications.

Color Drawings & Color Photographs in Design Patent Applications

Color drawings or color photographs in a design application do not require a petition. which simply needs the above specified language in the Brief Description of the Drawings.

Black-and-white Photographs in Utility Patent Applications

Black-and-white photos are ordinarily not permitted in utility applications unless they are the only practicable medium for illustrating the claimed invention. Black-and-white photographs do not require a petition.

Black-and-white Photographs in Design Patent Applications

Similarly, black-and-white photos are ordinarily not permitted in design patent applications unless they are the only practicable medium for illustrating the claimed invention [see 37 CFR § 1.84(b)(1)]. However, black-and-white photos submitted in a design patent application may be objected by the USPTO if the patent examiner believes that they are not the only practicable medium (e.g., the examiner might ask “Why couldn’t this design be shown in black-and-white line drawings?”).

No petitions are required for black-and-white photographs in a U.S. design patent application. Keep in mind, however, that the photos still must show the required design views (i.e., front, rear, left, right, top and bottom) with the exception of identical or mirror image views.

Photos must not show environmental structure, but be limited to the claimed design itself. Photos may not be combined with ink drawings.

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Vic Lin

Startup Patent Attorney | IP Lead Partner at Innovation Capital Law Group
We align ourselves with Davids fighting Goliaths. Our registered patent attorneys work as a team to equip startups and founders with solid IP rights that facilitate funding, growth and sales. Email or call us so we can get to work on your IP: (949) 223-9623 | vlin@icaplaw.com