November 30, 1999
Assistant Commissioner for Patents
Attn: Hiram H. Bernstein
Washington, D.C. 20231
I would like to express my concern regarding the proposed changes that the Patent Office has considered implementing. These changes will allow informal drawings of inferior quality to be accepted with the client's application and printed in the Official Gazette. As a qualified patent draftsman and manager of a large drafting and printing company, I believe this could have serious consequences for the United States Patent Office. My reasons are as follows:
Formalized drawings of high quality have always been a major part of disclosing the inventorÂ’s application, giving a clear and strong understanding to the principals and subtleties of the invention. Whether the technology is electrical, mechanical, or biological, drawings must be well though out, accurate, and of a high standard, leaving no opening to ambiguities or interpretations. Just as the applicant's specification has to meet certain requirements required by the Patent Office, the drawings which accompany the spec should also be held to a high standard. The documentation of the application when filed has to meet strict rules. It cannot be written by hand or in note form, marked with spelling and/or grammatical errors while not conforming to margin requirements.
Patent attorneys and agents are trained professionals employed to ensure that the above standards are upheld. This cannot be accomplished without qualified patent draftspersons ensuring clear drawings that leave no room for second guessing and mistakes. With pressure on the examiners to meet monthly quotas, the standards of formalized drawings will be lowered and poor line work and nomenclature will be the norm. These "formalized drawings" when printed in the Official Gazette will be confusing and unprofessional.
I am also concerned that the applicant will be misled into thinking he is saving money on not having formalized drawings when in fact the opposite is true. If there is an infringement on the patent and it has to go to litigation it is imperative that clear, concise, and accurate drawings support his claims.
Well executed drawings that are filed at the same time as the application will help speed up the process of allowance and publication. This may address the problem of backlog that at times plagues the Patent Office. Since most drawings are computer generated and those hand drawn drawings are photo-copied and the copies filed, corrections can easily be made without the old procedure of ordering the bristol board drawings from the Patent Trade Office.
In the future, drawings will be filed in the Patent Office electronically. If the drawings are presented correctly and to current Patent Trade Office standards then the approval process will be easier for the draftsperson and/or examiner. Informal drawings could again slow down this process causing more difficulties.
Once the application has been allowed the drawings that do not meet the correct standards can also pose a problem in the search room with searchers and other people of the general public reviewing patented cases. It's possible the examiner may have an understanding of a poorly executed drawing but it is foolhardy to assume the public will be able to decipher an amateur one.
As stated in the 1993 "Guide for the Preparation of Patent Drawings" written and printed by the Patent and Trademark Office, page 4 states, "Properly executed drawings are of the utmost importance in a patent application; therefore, it is critical that the drawings be executed in an accurate manner that graphically communicates the invention of the applicant(s). The quality of a patent drawing must meet high standards in order to clearly reproduce on the printed patent, which is an essential tool used as prior art by the Examiner in determining patentability of pending patent applications."
I would be grateful if you would give my concerns full consideration. It is imperative that standards are not compromised but held to the highest professional level. If possible, I would like to meet with you in person to discuss introduction of bonded drafting companies that would be affiliated with the Patent Office. These companies would have to be qualified in order to meet the current drawing standards. They would also be registered just like patent attorneys and agents and have to meet these high standard requirements.
I look forward in hearing from you soon.
Richard J. Gathercole
Quality Patent Printing
701 South 23 rd street
Arlington, Va. 22207