Sometimes an inventor needs to provide the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with drawings of their invention. This can help the examiner understand how the invention works. While some inventors hire professionals to make these drawings, this is not always necessary. You may be able to reduce costs and retain more control over how your invention is presented by making the drawings on your own.
Retaining a professional draftsperson can result in fees amounting to hundreds of dollars if an application contains several sheets of drawings. If you make the drawings, you will need to get familiar with the USPTO requirements in this area and learn some basic drawing principles. This will take some time and effort, but it may be worthwhile in the long term. Your drawings may be more accurate than drawings by an outside party, and you will not need to explain your invention to someone else or ask them to revise the drawings. Later, you can use your drawings in marketing materials to help explain how your invention works to customers.
You will need to use India ink if you make black and white drawings, which is the standard method. This process is inexpensive but can be complicated, since there is very little margin for error. If you make a mistake when you are drawing a line in ink, it is difficult to correct the mistake without restarting the drawing. If you are not familiar with drawing in perspective or other techniques that will help you accurately portray your invention, you may want to practice by tracing photographs on paper.
In some situations, an inventor will want to provide color drawings. This will require submitting a petition to explain why the drawings need to be in color, as well as paying an extra fee. You must provide three sets of the color drawings with the application, and you must state that the application includes color drawings.
Most applications do not involve photographs. The PTO allows applicants to use photographs only if they cannot adequately portray the invention in a drawing or if the photograph would show it more clearly. Patents related to animals, plants, and cell cultures might require photographs.
Some inventors feel uncomfortable making drawings but do not want to work with a professional. They may be able to use computer-aided drawing programs, which make the process of producing accurate drawings much easier. You also can easily revise computer drawings if you make mistakes. The cost of this equipment can be similar to the cost of hiring a professional, though.
You can use a scanner or a digital camera to import an image of the invention into the computer drawing program. This will make tracing the image in the program easier. Or you can simply draw the invention in the computer program. Some of these programs allow users to create a three-dimensional image by manipulating geometric building blocks. This can help you present an image of your invention from various perspectives, which may not be possible with less advanced technology.