Patent illustrations: How your invention comes to life

Canadian IP Voices is a podcast where we talk about intellectual property with a range of professionals and stakeholders across Canada and abroad. In episode 7, we host Darpan Patel, who worked as a patent drafter at BCF Business Law in Montreal. Darpan explains how professional drafters work with inventors and patent agents to make sure inventions are properly illustrated—a critical element in many patent applications. He also provides insight into the patent drafting process and the importance of patent drawings and also briefly discusses what a career path in patent illustration looks like.

At what point would an inventor need to think about having their inventions drawn and why is it important to have a good drawing? To illustrate, let’s take a look at a fictitious example of an inventor named Riddhi.

Riddhi, a recent graduate, has come up with an invention designed to help people with motor impairments or paralysis. She is now ready to apply for a patent but doesn’t know all the requirements for completing a patent application. Riddhi has also been trying to do her own patent drawings but has never really been an artist, so she is worried that her drawings may not be up to standard.

One option she can consider is hiring a registered patent agent, who can provide her with insight on the patent application process. Because it’s difficult to fully understand the way an invention works from reading a text description, multiple drawings are often required by patent offices if they would be needed to understand the invention or design. As Darpan explains in the podcast, patent drawings “usually have to be really precise in terms of what you’re illustrating…because it has to convey to the reader exactly the technology or design that’s being patented.” There are also various drawing standards according to the type and destination of the application.

So, Riddhi decides to hire a patent agent to help her with her application. The patent agent advises Riddhi that she needs to have clear drawings that illustrate her invention and how it works before it can be formally protected. Because of the level of technicality associated with patents and drawings, Riddhi’s patent agent suggests professional patent drafters, who have expertise in patent illustration and the different drawing standards.

Riddhi, like many other inventors, is surprised to hear that there’s an entire career path in the world of intellectual property and patent illustration. Riddhi is also relieved to know that the agent is already working with a drafter, who will work with her and the agent to make sure her invention is properly illustrated in the patent application. Riddhi and her patent agent send the invention and a briefing of its basic technology to the patent drafter. The patent drafter then creates clear drawings of Riddhi’s invention, making sure to follow all the relevant Patent Office drawing standards for the type of patent being filed.

The patent drafter does a prior art search for the client’s invention and goes forward with Riddhi’s invention from there. With patent applications, time is of the essence, so patent drafters try to work on patent illustrations as fast as reasonably possible while also delivering high-quality work. It is important for patent drafters to create quality work because there can’t be any ambiguity related to the invention or how it works; otherwise, the Patent Office may deny the application.

Because Riddhi hasn’t filed her patent application yet, she also has to be careful who she shares her invention with. For this reason, credibility and trustworthiness are very important in this line of work so that inventors like Riddhi feel comfortable enlisting the service of patent drafters.

Now that Riddhi has her drawings finished and ready to go, she can continue the path to getting a patent grant! To learn more about patent drafters and the details of patent illustration, tune into episode 7 of Canadian IP Voices, with Darpan Patel.

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