Graphic Design of High-Tech Inventions
of the problems in the examination of inventions are due to either the poor performance of the drawings or their unavailability. This issue was repeatedly raised in publications, however given the more rigid examination requirements after Russia’s joining the WTO, it is advisable to put special focus thereupon.
It should be reminded that compliant graphic materials can be also useful because most often in consideration of the patentability of an application an expert will first study the drawings. However, he/she immediately assesses the experience of the inventor, and he/she develops a certain attitude towards the application, and it will definitely have impact on the outcome of the case. The experience as an expert shows that very often a decision to refuse to grant a patent is taken during the first few seconds of studying the application materials.
In the "Guidelines for Preparation of the Application for Invention" of 1974 (EZ-1-74) 18 paragraphs are devoted to graphic materials, and are consistently presented on two pages. The present Federal Institute for Industrial Property’s "Administrative Regulation approved by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation on 29 October 2008" (hereinafter the Regulation) includes paragraph 10.9 Material Requirements Explaining the Essence of the Invention which states "The materials explaining the nature of the invention may be prepared as graphic images (drawings, diagrams, sketches, graphs, charts, waveforms etc.), photographs and tables. Pictures or images are presented in the case when it is impossible to illustrate the invention through drawings or diagrams. Photos are presented as a complement to graphic images. In exceptional cases, for example, to illustrate the stages of a surgical operation, the photos can be represented as the key explanatory materials. Drawings, diagrams and pictures are submitted on a separate sheet, in the upper right corner it is recommended to specify the title of the invention". Further, in two pages, in a sub-paragraph of paragraph 10.11(11) the description of the drawing requirements is continued. But an inventor, when he/she reads paragraph 10.9, often decides that the discussion about the drawings is over and proceeds with execution. Due to this, the number of errors in the graphic design increases.
Let us consider p.10.11(11 ) of the Regulation in its sequence. For simplicity, we will assign numbers to the paragraphs (A.1, A.4 etc.). Skipping a paragraph means that comments are not required.
In A.1 it is stated that "graphics are made with the lines of equal thickness". It should be added that if the image elements should be made with the lines of the same thickness, then it is advisable to make extension lines, especially connections (e.g. electrical connections) with a smaller thickness. This especially applies to the structural and electrical plans where the decussated electrical connections can be mixed up with a circuit element.
A.4 contains a fair requirement that each graphic image should be assigned a number (1, 2 etc.). However, in the case of complex design decisions, some images such as the local section related to the principal view, which are considerably less informative, should not be specifically designated; otherwise the number of images marked with numbers can exceed all reasonable limits. The author’s experience shows that examination usually accepts this form of submission of drawings.
In A.5 it is said that "several figures can be presented on one sheet". It should be borne in mind that it is expedient to provide relational modules on the same scale, preferably projection-related unless it is otherwise required for a better understanding of the drawings.
In A.7 it is stated that "it is preferable to present on a drawing rectangular (orthogonal) projections (in various forms, cuts and sections); it is allowed to use perspective projections". These are very true words, especially now when the inventors using drawing design applications often misuse three-dimensional images, which often contain a lot of excessive things and prevent from understanding the application files.
A.10 indicates the need to minimise the number of drawing annotations, every second inventor fails to follow this recommendation.
A.11 contains a ban on dimensioning the drawings, and that is logical since it is usually advisable to indicate the range of sizes in patents. In this case, the size in the drawing may have letter indications with more specification in the description.
The requirement to denote the same elements with the same numbers in A.13 is true. But in practice quite often the same element on one or several images performs various functions and has different connections. For example, a two-axis table is equipped with two completely identical actuators designed to move its carriages for different coordinates. The carriages can thus have the same movement sensors. In this case, if the description should refer to each actuator and sensor separately, then it is advisable to assign numbers to them, e.g. "first actuator 1", "second actuator 2", "first movement sensor 3", "second movement sensor 4". It should also be noted that designation of positions in the drawings is put near the designated element or an extension line going to the element. If a drawing does not make it clear which element or extension line a number is referred to, they should be put on the horizontal shelves of the extension lines.
Now let us consider the drawing requirements which are more clearly presented in EZ-1-74. In p.108 it is stated that the description of an invention and drawings shall be strictly coordinated (hereinafter, in most cases, are given in quotes but only the meaning of provisions). It seems to be a basic requirement but it was not met among almost 90% of the applications, which the author had to deal with as a patent examiner, concerning both beginner inventors and experienced inventors. The drawings often indicate elements which are not mentioned in the description, and sometimes there is nothing to say about them. For example, what can you say about screws that secure the coordinate table in a vacuum chamber where a few more dozens of functional units are included in the formula of invention? Those screws only clog up the drawings and make them less readable. Hence, it is not necessary to present them. Of course, if the screws defined the inventive concept, for example, they were made of tungsten and had an internal cavity of a complex shape for laminar supply of the reactive gas to the high-temperature reaction chamber, then it would be necessary to present them in detail but this is another case. An extremely wrong option is the graphic materials based on the assembly drawings with dozens of details irrelevant to the essence of the invention.
It is not uncommon that necessary elements for the realisation of an invention are graphically depicted and mentioned in the description but have no symbols in the drawing. It can be difficult to understand such drawings.
In p.116 it indicated that the first figure of the drawing should depict a general view of the device which is the object of the invention. That is a correct requirement but it would be even better if the first figure corresponded to the first independent claim of the invention formula. It would be useful, if each subsequent figure illustrated the subsequent claim of the invention formula. This is rarely achievable but you need to strive since then the entire application is clearly structured, it is easier to understand the application during examination, and the patent becomes more understandable. Of course, individual drawings may present and complement modules depicted in fig.1; and they should not be directly related to the distinctive features but can only explain, for example, the operational behaviour of a device. It should be understood that drawings should not be overloaded with unnecessary notations either. It is undesirable that the total number of positions in a drawing is significantly higher than 100 because the material is more difficult to be understood in reading, and it can complicate the examination of the application.
Let us get back to the Administrative Regulation. In p.10.7.4.4 the content of the brief description of drawings is not clearly specified. Often inventors guided by the requirements of research articles explain the symbols of positions in the drawings. It is impractical to do so because you will still have to disclose them in the description of the design of the device. It should be enough to give the name to an image and maintain the same terminology as in the description and brief comments, if needed, e.g. "Fig. 1 shows a general view of the device (with its full name)"; "Fig. 2 shows section A-A as to fig.1" and so on.
Some recommendations not reflected in the documents should be additionally provided.
If the main drawing is rather complicated, for example, it contains more than 30 positions, and it has actuating elements connected to the control unit, then this unit may be omitted in order to simplify the drawing. In this case, it is advisable to provide a separate structural diagram where the actuating elements and the control unit are represented by rectangles . If the control unit(s) is (are) still presented in the main drawing, then some connections can be shown and some truncated with an indication where they go to (see ).
If there are other elements with their names and symbols inside the module, which has its own name and symbol, or the module consists of several components, it is advisable to denote by an extension line with an arrowhead abutting its circuit (see ) and the elements or components of the module, the lines which end with points on their body. It is also suitable to use an extension line with an arrowhead to denote plane elements in the side view or sectional view.
It is optional to present biological objects in the form of drawings, especially if they are part of the drawings. You can use their conventional representation, a virus is a circle, a biological molecule is an oval etc. This is described about in detail in .
Inventors often add to the description more seemingly minor elements without mentioning them in the formula and without showing them in the drawings. But sometimes only these elements are not enough to obtain a patent. In that case, an expert would indicate that it is unclear how they are arranged, what they consists of, and introduction of them in the invention formula is beyond the scope of original files. Thus, it is always advisable to use the ALARP (as low as reasonably practicable) principle in representing elements graphically.
It is almost always necessary to provide fairly detailed drawings for purely constructive inventions even those with simple functionality (see ).
It is quite often that applications for devices need to be illustrated with drawings, which show the operation of the devices, and at first glance they are more related to methods. It may be appropriate sometimes especially if the operating mode of a device is difficult. If an application is registered for the device and method at the same time, then of course the drawings should depict both the device and method. For example, in an application for a "Multifunctional piezoscanner and a method of scanning in probe microscopy"  10 drawings for the device and 12 drawings describing its operation are made available. All drawings including a variety of subjects of patenting within a single patent application have continuous numbering.
The embodiments of a complex multicomponent unit can be represented more simply, in a block diagram form (see ).
Often devices with narrow application are patented. In that case, it is expedient to show the place of the patented device in particular equipment. For example, the "Small-Size Scanning Probe Microscope"  intended for use in vacuum chambers was shown in two drawings in the chambers.
It is not uncommon that the applications for methods are illustrated without any graphic materials. Nevertheless, given that a method is the action over material objects, it is sensible to represent these objects along with the tools that perform actions. It will be much easier to understand such an application, and therefore a positive decision is more likely. For example, in the patent "Method of Forming a Sensor Element for Scanning Probe Microscopy"  shows the object, its fixture, electron beam and the unit itself which provides the basic process.
When patenting the methods of measurement associated with any complex electrical signal processing, it is advisable to first show the device, on which measurements are taken, and then, if possible, the measurement of a material object, and at the end present the type of signals processed (see [14 ]). This applies to software products used with material objects. The first image should show the object and where operating signals some from; then bring these signals and illustrate their processing (see ). This principle is often ignored by "computer people" who straight away begin to describe their method of processing signals without describing the process for obtaining signals, and it is very difficult to understand such files.
When patenting the complex manufacturing processes, such as the production of micro-and nanomechanics, it is advisable to graphically present all the process operations (see ).
Graphic material design examples
In conclusion, let us consider a few design examples, the first two of which have already been described in , but it is worth presenting them again in another context.
Fig.1 shows a nanotechnological unit which occupies the area of several dozen square metres, and its graphic representation for patenting. Fig.2 provides the drawing of a piezoscanner with the size of a match box consisting of eight parts. As it can be seen from this example, both large units and relatively simple modules can be represented approximately the same way at patenting.
Certainly you may have to produce drawings with a lot of information (see e.g.  providing 24 images). This is necessary when fundamentally new technologies, which are provided by non-standard means, are going to be patented. Sophisticated drawings may also be required in case an alternate design of a device performing complex manufacturing operations is patented. The patent  describes a device designed to manufacture and control probes for tunnelling microscopes. A workpiece of probe 2 (fig.3) is placed in the first block of movement 3 in the coordinate Z, and then introduced in the frame electrode 10 with the etching agent 11. Given that the process of creating the tip 30 is multi-step and includes a number of additional devices (tanks 13 and 21 the second movement unit 9, a microscope 27, a photodetector 44 etc.), it is essential to present all that in the drawings to prove the industrial applicability of the invention.
It is quite often that not only multi-component units but also small items are significantly different from their drawings. For example, fig.4 shows the drawing of a multi-probe cartridge and its photo. The cartridge comprises the base 1, along the perimeter of which there are flexible consoles 4 with probes 5. With the setting module 9 the cartridge is fixed in the rotation mechanism for taking the desired probe 5 to the working area. The drawing illustrates four consoles 4 with probes, which corresponds to one of the cartridge embodiments. Of course, the description should provide a variety of probe numbers including those corresponding to the real one unless that is a know how.
Fig.5 shows a scanning probe microscope with a device turning the cartridge 10. The drawing is different from the image of a real instrument and is not tied to its appearance. This is justified since usually one basic configuration can be implemented in many mechanic designs.
Consequently, in the patenting of individual units of this device the graphic representation is simplified with simultaneous highlighting the important elements. Fig.6 based on the assembly drawing shows a shaft drive, which includes a shaft 3 coupled with a split bushing 5 rotating the cartridge 4.
Fig.7 shows the shaft drive in an optimal form for patenting. There are no unnecessary elements, e.g. chamfers, ledges or ridges shown in fig.6 but all the elements you need to make it run. The clutch 68 provides a kinematic decoupling for the device, the pin 76 slides along the groove 79, the bracket 80 provides for fixing the stepper motor 21 on the base 1. This example shows compliance with the recommendations in p.10.11.11 of the regulation on the preferred use of orthogonal projections compared with axonometric ones. The shaft drive drawing shown in fig.7 is easier and clearer than its image in fig.6.
Of course, in some cases, drawings and real items can fully match. Fig.8 is a drawing of a probe for scanning probe microscopes  which is close to how the device looks in reality, and it is close to the assembly drawing appearance.
Fig.9 shows an option of fastening a quartz-crystal resonator in the scanning probe microscope from the patent . In the drawing only the proportions of elements are changed, and the rest is fully in line with the actual product.
In conclusion, it should be noted that the most important drawing requirement is that drawings should be as clear and easy to grasp as possible.