MPEP 601.01(f)
Applications Filed Without Drawings

This is the Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 08.2017, Last Revised in January 2018

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601.01(f)    Applications Filed Without Drawings [R-07.2015]

[Editor’s Note: This section is only applicable to applications filed prior to December 18, 2013 or to design applications. Applications, which are not design applications, filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) or (b) on or after December 18, 2013 are entitled to a filing date even if the application does not contain drawings. If such an application is filed without drawings, it may be completed subsequent to its filing date. See 37 CFR 1.53(e) and MPEP § 601.01(g).]

35 U.S.C. 111(a)(2)(B) and 35 U.S.C. 111(b)(1)(B) each provide, in part, that an "application shall include... a drawing as prescribed by section 113." 35 U.S.C. 113 (first sentence) in turn provides that an "applicant shall furnish a drawing where necessary for the understanding of the subject matter sought to be patented." For applications filed prior to December 18, 2013, 35 U.S.C. 111(a)(4) and 35 U.S.C. 111(b)(4) each provide, in part, that the "filing date... shall be the date on which... any required drawing are received in the Patent and Trademark Office." Therefore, design applications and applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) or (b) prior to December 18, 2013 must have any required drawing, if it is necessary for the understanding of the invention, in order to receive a filing date. For applications other than design applications filed on or after December 18, 2013, although drawings are not required in order to receive a filing date, drawings should be submitted on filing if necessary for the understanding of the invention because no amendment may introduce new matter into the disclosure of an application after its filing date.

Applications filed without drawings are initially inspected to determine whether a drawing is referred to in the specification, and if not, whether a drawing is necessary for the understanding of the invention. 35 U.S.C. 113 (first sentence).

It has been USPTO practice to treat an application that contains at least one process or method claim as an application for which a drawing is not necessary for an understanding of the invention under 35 U.S.C. 113 (first sentence). The same practice has been followed in composition applications. Other situations in which drawings are usually not considered necessary for the understanding of the invention under 35 U.S.C. 113 (first sentence) are:

  • (A) Coated articles or products: where the invention resides solely in coating or impregnating a conventional sheet (e.g., paper or cloth, or an article of known and conventional character with a particular composition), unless significant details of structure or arrangement are involved in the article claims;
  • (B) Articles made from a particular material or composition: where the invention consists in making an article of a particular material or composition, unless significant details of structure or arrangement are involved in the article claims;
  • (C) Laminated structures: where the claimed invention involves only laminations of sheets (and coatings) of specified material unless significant details of structure or arrangement (other than the mere order of the layers) are involved in the article claims; or
  • (D) Articles, apparatus, or systems where sole distinguishing feature is presence of a particular material: where the invention resides solely in the use of a particular material in an otherwise old article, apparatus or system recited broadly in the claims, for example:
    • (1) A hydraulic system distinguished solely by the use therein of a particular hydraulic fluid;
    • (2) Packaged sutures wherein the structure and arrangement of the package are conventional and the only distinguishing feature is the use of a particular material.

A nonprovisional application having at least one claim, or a provisional application having at least some disclosure, directed to the subject matter discussed above for which a drawing is usually not considered essential for a filing date, not describing drawing figures in the specification, and filed without drawings will simply be processed, so long as the application contains something that can be construed as a written description. A nonprovisional application having at least one claim, or a provisional application having at least some disclosure, directed to the subject matter discussed above for which a drawing is usually not considered essential for a filing date, describing drawing figure(s) in the specification, but filed without drawings will be treated as an application filed without all of the drawing figures referred to in the specification as discussed in MPEP § 601.01(g), so long as the application contains something that can be construed as a written description. In a situation in which the appropriate Technology Center (TC) determines that drawings are necessary under 35 U.S.C. 113 (first sentence) the filing date issue will be reconsidered by the USPTO in nonprovisional applications filed prior to December 18, 2013 or in design applications. The application will be returned to the Office of Patent Application Processing (OPAP) for mailing of a "Notice of Incomplete Application."

If a nonprovisional application filed prior to December 18, 2013 or a design application does not have at least one claim directed to the subject matter discussed above for which a drawing is usually not considered essential for a filing date, or a provisional application filed prior to December 18, 2013 does not have at least some disclosure directed to the subject matter discussed above for which a drawing is usually not considered essential for a filing date, and is filed without drawings, OPAP will mail a "Notice of Incomplete Application" indicating that the application lacks drawings and that 35 U.S.C. 113 (first sentence) requires a drawing where necessary for the understanding of the subject matter sought to be patented.

Applicant may file a petition under 37 CFR 1.53(e) with the petition fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(f), asserting that (A) the drawing(s) at issue was submitted, or (B) the drawing(s) is not necessary under 35 U.S.C. 113 (first sentence) for a filing date. The petition must be accompanied by sufficient evidence to establish applicant’s entitlement to the requested filing date (e.g., a date-stamped postcard receipt (MPEP § 503) to establish prior receipt in the USPTO of the drawing(s) at issue). Alternatively, applicant in a nonprovisional application may submit drawing(s) and accept the date of such submission as the application filing date. For applications filed before September 16, 2012, such drawings must be accompanied by an oath or declaration in compliance with pre-AIA 37 CFR 1.63 and pre-AIA 37 CFR 1.64 referring to the drawing(s) being submitted.

If the drawing(s) was inadvertently omitted from a nonprovisional application filed on or after September 21, 2004, and the application contains a claim under 37 CFR 1.55 for priority of a prior-filed foreign application, or a claim under 37 CFR 1.78 for the benefit of a prior-filed provisional, nonprovisional, international application, or international design application that was present on the filing date of the application, and the inadvertently omitted drawing(s) is completely contained in the prior-filed application, the applicant may submit the omitted drawing(s) by way of an amendment in compliance with 37 CFR 1.57(b). The amendment must be by way of a petition under 37 CFR 1.53(e) accompanied by the petition fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(f). See MPEP § 217.

In design applications, OPAP will mail a "Notice of Incomplete Application" indicating that the application lacks the drawings required under 35 U.S.C. 113 (first sentence). The applicant may: (A) promptly file a petition under 37 CFR 1.53(e) with the petition fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(f), asserting that the missing drawing(s) was submitted; or (B) promptly submit drawing(s) and accept the date of such submission as the application filing date. For applications filed before September 16, 2012, such drawing(s) must be accompanied by an oath or declaration in compliance with pre-AIA 37 CFR 1.63 and pre-AIA 37 CFR 1.64. Applicant may also be able to file an amendment by way of a petition under 37 CFR 1.53(e) as provided for in 37 CFR 1.57(b)(3) as discussed above. 37 CFR 1.153(a) provides that the claim in a design application "shall be in formal terms to the ornamental design for the article (specifying name) as shown, or as shown and described." As such, petitions under 37 CFR 1.53(e) asserting that drawings are unnecessary under 35 U.S.C. 113 (first sentence) for a filing date in a design application will not be found persuasive.

The treatment of an application subsequent to the mailing of a "Notice of Incomplete Application" is discussed in MPEP § 601.01(d).