Has anyone who is familiar with any modernization efforts of the US patent system heard proposals to accept 3D Digital models in addition or in lieu of patent drawings? If so do you have any literature links?

There are 3D repositories of 3D models such as:

3D Model Repository that the USPTO can emulate to have private submissions of working digital prototypes that can give examiners so much more information than a 2D set of drawings.

Bringing Inventions to Life: The Magic of 3D Modeling

My searches revealed an interest by the USPTO in 3D Printing only:

USPTO IP Policy & 3D Printing

Thank you

  • Plenty of information on the CPC classification of 3D objects and models: uspto.gov/web/patents/classification/cpc/html/defG06T.html
    – 3dalliance
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 17:02
  • I don't have an answer beyond pure speculation. However given the resistance of the US patent system to embrace even simple colour drawings, it seems extremely unlikely they would embrace relatively cutting edge approaches like 3D models. Moreover, one would think that any change to include 3D models would need to be by international agreement, simply because otherwise your application would be insufficient for any other country.
    – Maca
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 2:13
  • Thank you @Maca for your contribution to the discussion. We need to negotiate new treaties in light of new technology.
    – 3dalliance
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 13:59

2 Answers 2


Not an answer. Just comment too long to fit the comment section.

  1. Such feature won't be seen as essential or even necessary. When studying patents, I sometimes feel that "Geeze, I need a 3D model to understand this". However, with some efforts, I can understand most mechanical patents.

  2. It could easily become a trap for new or sloppy inventors. In preparing patent application, it's important not to disclose more than necessary. Sometimes you need to remove unnecessary features (e.g. core-out section, ribs, screws, etc.) to make the drawing cleaner and easier to understand, or remove ornamental features (on which you might want to get a design patent later), or features that you might later be able to get a patent on. Often such clean-up is more easily done on 2D than on 3D drawings. For new or sloppy inventors, the more easy things become, the more easy they f**k themselves up.

  3. 3D model makes it easier for your competitors to reverse engineer your design. For example, an ornamental feature or a curved fluid conduct surface may take tedious work to create. Even if that's what you want to get a patent on, you want to describe it, not to make your competitor's life easy. Also, for a variety of reasons, sometimes you don't want others to make compatible parts.

  4. 3D model is not really accessible. Even with common file format such as STEP and IGS, you still get compatibility issue. In a 3D model, you can't mark parts with numbers, draw arrows, or draw symbols.

  5. With USPTO, everything eventually become public. You'd probably need another major patent law reform to make it possible to keep certain information private.

  6. USPTO probably don't have the will or budget to become a file repository service. It would be more beneficial if USPTO commit more resource into making its XML-formatted patent data more accessible.

It's possible to provide digital references such as video, 3D model, colored drawings, or electronic simulation via public Web link in non-patent citation.

  • 1. Virtual reality ~=actual reality these days. 2. Keeping trade secrets back. 3. Using dumb solids would help here. 4. I've seen that a lot in the past but not so much now. 5. I love that part. 6. They will get the budget when we get electronic cache$! Thank you for your insights Daniel. I'm thinking minority report meets Einstein ... who was a patent examiner powered by digital currency backed by the USPTO!
    – 3dalliance
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 12:26
  • I think it was a good answer.
    – 3dalliance
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 18:20

Consider the wealth of knowledge we could give the future through 3D world leadership. We have begun the discussion here. Technology transfer and the broadcast function of the USPTO as well a clear path to human ascendancy would be bound in the files produced ... accessible for millennia. JFK said "we do these things ... not because they are easy but because they are hard".

Ascendant 3D technologies are accessible NOW to any and all especially the USPTO with an enhanced budget. Autodesk gives their software for free for educators and students. They would LOVE to enable the USPTO with their technology. Embodied energy memory = true wealth.

  • I don't think this attempts to answer the question.
    – Eric S
    Commented Feb 17, 2018 at 20:36

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