By: Luke Hibbeler [4/6/22]

Drawings are not required in a provisional application. In fact, one advantage of a provisional application is its lack of requirements. But just because drawings are not required, does that mean they shouldn’t be included?

First, let’s discuss the central purpose of a provisional application. A provisional application establishes an early effective filing date in a later-filed nonprovisional patent application. [1] That nonprovisional is only entitled the earlier filing date if the provisional provides support for the claims of the nonprovisional. [2] This means the provisional must provide an adequate written description of the claims in the nonprovisional.

Do drawings help provide an adequate written description? Absolutely.

In fact, courts have held that drawings alone can provide a written description of an invention. [3] Drawings constitute an adequate description if they describe what is claimed and convey to those of skill in the art that the patentee actually invented what is claimed. [4]

To paraphrase the courts, the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” certainly applies to patent practice. From a common-sense perspective, drawings assist in understanding an invention. Consider the time and effort it would take to express every detail and nuance of a drawing in words. Also, consider how many consider ourselves to be visual learners. The same holds true for jurors, judges, and examiners at the patent office.

If you’re considering whether to include drawings in your provisional application, think about how effective a drawing can be at disclosing an invention. It may be worth including a drawing or more in yours.

Our highly experienced Intellectual Property Attorneys have advanced technical degrees, vast knowledge, and practical experience. We handle hundreds of new patent applications each year, with offices located nationwide and near the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

To learn more about Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig and how we can help, contact us by calling 800-747-9354 or emailing


[2] Dynamic Drinkware LLC v. National Graphics Inc., 800 F.3d 1375 (2015).

[3] Vas-Cath Inc. v. Sakharam D. Mahurkar, 935 F.2d 1555, 1565 (Fed. Cir. 1991).

[4] Cooper Cameron Corp. v. Kvaerner Oilfield Prods., 291 F.3d 1317, 1322 (Fed. Cir. 2002). 

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Posted in: Intellectual Property, Intellectual Property - Patents

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