Anthony J. Davies 701 South 23rd Street, Arlington, VA 22202
Assistant Commisioner for Patents
Washington D.C. 20231Regreform@uspto.gov
There is a great amount of fear among qualified Patent Draftspeople in response to, the proposed rule changes in the Federal Register dated Oct. 4th 1999. Reduced standards in the drawing requirements and the idea that most informal drawings could be excepted for printing with the patent, sends a shockwave through the established patent drawing industry. How, after all these years of emphasizing quality, could anyone suggest such a thing?
As a Patent Draftsmen, I see a great many attempts by individual inventors, and sometimes their representatives, at preparing their own drawings, often with very poor results. Good drawings are often invaluable in determining the specific details of an invention, whether it be in supporting the claims or providing an enabling disclosure. It seems to me that any attempts to back away from the traditional requirements for quality would create more problems than benefits for the Patent Office, its examiners and agents alike.
Wading through many a page of written specification myself, and cross-referencing numerous sheets of drawings in order to overcome the ambiguities created by poorly executed drawings, is part of my every day experience as a Patent Draftsman. Through this activity I feel I have provided an invaluable service to the Patent office, especially in cases which are yet to be filed. This service saves more time than any of the recently proposed changes. Well qualified drafters tend to sort these problems out, as they do their work. They give the extra attention to the drawings that is needed. In turn this activity creates a dialog between inventors, their agents and the draftsperson, solving problems which would otherwise involve examiners later on, therefore prolonging the prosecution of cases and creating a heavier burden for examiners. Surely, anything that helps improve the quality of the disclosure, when filed initially, is going to help speed applications through the whole process of getting a patent allowed. I therefore, would advocate that the Patent Office go back to its old policy of requiring formal drawings at the same time as the initial filing of an application and that they maintain the same emphasis on quality.
I have been a Patent Draftsman for the last twenty-one years. I brought to my profession a background in Printing Technology, photography, illustration and Engineering drafting, an accumulative total of thirty years. I have now managed to pass some of these skills on, to roughly two dozen budding, and fully accomplished Patent Draftspeople.
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Through the knowledge and experience I have gained over the last three decades I have found it essential to teach and emphasize the need to execute drawings in a manner that, through clean and clearly drawn linework, would enable the drawings to hold up to any, reasonable size reduction.
In my opinion this need would be just as essential when all original drawings are scanned and pixelized. This would turn each image into a series of discreet dots. Surely, with this new technology just around the corner, would it not be prudent to maintain high standards. A pixelized image of applicants drawings is not going to be clearer than the original drawing itself. It is therefore of paramount importance that standards for drawings be maintained at a high level.
Although I am concerned about any suggestion to lower standards, the proposals put forth in The Federal Register seem rather nebulous to me. No samples have been offered for review. This renders it impossible to make a judgement on the total worthiness of the proposals.
I suggest that samples of previously filed informal drawings, from issued applications, be used to illustrate how a reduction in standards would have effected the speed through which the application was processed. This challenge could also be used to illustrate how a reduction in standards, might effect the appearance of any printed patents in the future and give the whole Patent industry some warning on how far-reaching the proposed changes would be.
My firm has recently invested in 'state of the art' technology to prepare us for the future. Should we continue to invest in a future that might not be there? We have no idea whether reduced standards would mean that rough pencil layouts would be excepted as the norm or if hand-written references would pass through the system regardless of how difficult it might be to read them. Not knowing how drastic the changes in requirements for drawings would be, leaves most of us wondering whether Patent Drafting, as a profession, would be a thing of the past or whether the changes would effect us at all.
It would take a long time for the industry to recover, if changes severely disrupted the industry and the Patent Office tried to back-peddle later on.
On behalf of the highly skilled, specialize profession,
ANTHONY J. DAVIES