A Small Setback

I received an email from my patent attorney the other day. Apparently the US Examiner has objected to my application because some of the drawings aren’t up to scratch. At least he didn’t object on the grounds of prior art, which is good news as it means the application will probably go through once we’ve sorted out the drawings.

All a bit irritating though, not least because we now only have a short period to amend the drawings and re-submit them. And also because this is the sort of thing I would have hoped my attorney’s US associates would have warned us about when we asked (and paid for) them to review the drawings before they were submitted…

Anyway, apparently the US Examiner objected to some of the lines being of different weights because he couldn’t properly distinguish solid from dashed lines (dashed lines are used to indicate unclaimed matter – i.e. aspects of the design that do not form part of the ‘invention’ for which patent protection is sought). This does seem slightly odd, as the European Examiner had no such trouble with the very same drawings…

He has at least given some fairly clear instructions about what he wants, so I shall amend the drawings accordingly. Apparently all the lines need to be of the same weight, I need to add shading to some surfaces and remove it from others, and make sure dashed and solid lines are clearly differentiated. All do-able, I think, but this does throw up an interesting problem – how to reconcile the need for accurate technical drawings, which clearly show the design (and where I would have thought lines of different weights make perfect sense in order to show, for example, depth or layering of parts, in a plan-view drawing) versus drawings that meet patent office criteria but which may lose fidelity as a result.

One of the frustrating things about this is that evidently individual countries have their own standards for how they expect drawings to be prepared – so a lesson there I suppose is that if you’re patenting a design in multiple territories, don’t assume the same drawings will be acceptable for all of them.


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