Design Patent Illustration Requirements – Things You Need to Know

You must stick to some strict standards to match the design patent illustration requirements. Generally, you must show the figures for a design patent application in black-and-white line drawings and proper surface shading. Also, there must be an appropriate use of broken lines to show the subject matter apart from the claimed design. The USPTO provides a helpful guide on design patent applications.  

Moreover, the main focus of the illustration must be only on the unique portion of the design.  The illustrations must show the overall design of the product if the overall design of the product is unique.  Illustrating other parts than the unique portion will unduly narrow the scope of protection by the design patent.

Design Patent Illustration Requirements

The design patent illustration requirements include particular contours, material texture, shape, properties, and proportion. Thus, you must ensure not to leave any part of the product’s design as imagination. Moreover, you must understand what to include in your design patent illustrations and how.

Some of the design patent illustration requirements that you must follow to obtain the perfect illustrations are:

Drawing Format

You must illustrate the design patent figures in black-and-white line drawings. Also, you must provide special attention to surface shading in order to show the character and contour. Moreover, you may use broken lines to depict portions that are not part of the claimed design. Although, you may file black-and-white photographs only if they are the only practicable medium for the illustration.

Color Drawings/Photos

You must file a petition explaining the need for colored photographs if you seek to file it in place of black-and-white drawings. The petition must contain three sets of color drawings or photographs. However, the specification must contain the following words:

“The patent or application file contains a least one drawing executed in color. Copies of this patent or patent application publication with color drawing(s) will be provided by the office upon request and payment of the necessary fee.”

Also Read: What is the role of an Intellectual Property Paralegal?

Views Required

The front view, rear view, right side view, left side view, top view, and bottom view are the general views required. Although, the perspective views are not required they are recommended since they are helpful in showing the appearance, shape, and depth of the 3D designs.

However, you may omit the mirror images of other views if the specification is explicitly clear.

For example, you may provide a written description of the other side of the left and right sides of a design are mirror images. You may state that “the right side elevational view is a mirror image of the left side”.

Surface Shading

The appropriate surface shading is one of the crucial design patent illustration requirements. It must clearly show the contour and character of all surfaces related to the 3D aspect of the design.

Moreover, surface shading is necessary to differentiate between solid areas and open spaces. The lack of proper surface shading may result in the non-enabling of the invention. Thus, it may lead to patent application rejection. Also, it is difficult to correct as adding any sort of surface shading to the initial design is considered as a new matter.


The written disclaimer or statements are not permitted in design patents that are issued. However, they are temporally allowed for a pending design application in order to enable future amendments. Thus, you must show these features in a broken or dashed line to avoid claiming a particular design element.

Broken/Dashed lines

The Broken or dashed lines are used to indicate the part that does not belong to the claimed design. A few numbers of countries do not allow the use of broken lines in design patent applications. Thus, you must keep in mind that you need to show everything as solid in a counterpart foreign design patent application.

NOTE: You cannot combine photos with black-and-white line drawings in one design application [MPEP 1503.02]. Moreover, the photos must not show any environmental structure.

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