MPEP Q & A 200: When Drawings Are Not Considered Necessary Under 35 USC 113

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Question:

When is a drawing usually not considered necessary for the understanding of an invention under 35 USC 113 (first sentence)?

Answer:

It has been USPTO practice to treat an application that contains at least one process or method claim as an application for which a drawing is not necessary for an understanding of the invention under 35 U.S.C. 113 (first sentence). The same practice has been followed in composition applications. Other situations in which drawings are usually not considered necessary for the understanding of the invention under 35 U.S.C. 113 (first sentence) are:

  • (A) Coated articles or products: where the invention resides solely in coating or impregnating a conventional sheet (e.g., paper or cloth, or an article of known and conventional character with a particular composition), unless significant details of structure or arrangement are involved in the article claims;
  • (B) Articles made from a particular material or composition: where the invention consists in making an article of a particular material or composition, unless significant details of structure or arrangement are involved in the article claims;
  • (C) Laminated structures: where the claimed invention involves only laminations of sheets (and coatings) of specified material unless significant details of structure or arrangement (other than the mere order of the layers) are involved in the article claims; or
  • (D) Articles, apparatus, or systems where sole distinguishing feature is presence of a particular material: where the invention resides solely in the use of a particular material in an otherwise old article, apparatus or system recited broadly in the claims, for example:
    • (1) A hydraulic system distinguished solely by the use therein of a particular hydraulic fluid;
    • (2) Packaged sutures wherein the structure and arrangement of the package are conventional and the only distinguishing feature is the use of a particular material.

Chapter Details:

The answer to this question can be found in chapter 600 of the MPEP. This chapter covers Parts, Form, and Content of Application.

The answer is from the 9th Edition, Revision 08.2017. Depending on future changes to the MPEP, the question and answer may or may not be applicable in later Editions or revisions.

Section Summary:

This question and answer comes from section 601.01(f) of the MPEP.  The following is a brief summary of section 601.01(f).

601.01(f) Applications Filed Without Drawings

An “applicant shall furnish a drawing where necessary for the understanding of the subject matter sought to be patented.” Applications filed without drawings are initially inspected to determine whether a drawing is referred to in the specification, and if not, whether a drawing is necessary for the understanding of the invention.

This section covers what happens in instances where the application does not require a drawing as well as those that do require drawings, but was filed without.