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Many patented devices have drawing to illustrate physical form to support functional claims. If the device is a data-collection system (using existing non-patentable components):

  • Is the physical form of the system irrelevant: there is no reason to draw an example of the embodiment?

The arrangement / interconnection of the components is the patent 'secret sauce': I would think the USPTO expect that this should be drawn to clarify.

  • Is there any other purpose for drawings in this context?

Any questions or suggestions to sharpen the question are appreciated.

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The purpose of drawings is to help explain the invention, including ensuring it is enabled. Consequently, you should include any drawings that would be useful for the reader to this end. If no drawings would be useful, then there is no obligation to include any.

If the invention subsists in how the known elements are connected together, then this could well be shown in the drawings. For example, a diagram of components with lines showing connections would be reasonable. Additionally or alternatively, a flow chart showing the steps performed at different components would also be reasonable.

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  • Would an application without drawing stand a chance against US examiners? Afaik they love telling you to include anything mentioned in the claims in a drawing. – DonQuiKong Jan 15 '18 at 10:58
  • @DonQuiKong I can't say I've ever seen it happen... But it's still possible in theory I guess. – Maca Jan 15 '18 at 18:43
  • I wouldn't try ;) – DonQuiKong Jan 15 '18 at 19:34
  • Patents on compositions of matter usually do not have drawings. google.com/patents/US7329302 is an example – George White Jan 18 '18 at 1:56
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By law, patent applications need to include at least one patent drawing if the object or process is capable of being rendered in an illustration. However, it’s always worthwhile to try and include a patent drawing if at all possible, even if for a particular patent application it’s not strictly required. For example, if you’re claiming a method or process a drawing might not be technically required, but some kind of illustration – a flowchart or diagram perhaps – will strengthen the application.

Even though the rules may require only one drawing under normal circumstances, your patent application will be much stronger with more drawings. Drawings are not only helpful in getting your patent approved, they can be important if your patent is ever involved in a lawsuit. If an important detail was left out of the written description of the patent, drawings can still disclose what’s in the patent. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the primary appeals court for patent cases, often refers to drawings as part of their deliberations.

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  • When you state "by law" can you link to the particular regulation? I actually stumbled upon one patent which didn't have a drawing so I'm very interested. – Eric S Sep 8 at 18:15
  • if the object or process is capable of being rendered in an illustration. – Tara Reddy Sep 10 at 14:29
  • uspto.gov/patents-getting-started/… Drawing The applicant for a patent will be required by law to furnish a drawing of the invention whenever the nature of the case requires a drawing to understand the invention. However, the Director may require a drawing where the nature of the subject matter admits of it; this drawing must be filed with the application. This includes practically all inventions except compositions of matter or processes, but a drawing may also be useful in the case of many processes. – Tara Reddy Sep 10 at 14:33
  • The link provided doesn't state exactly what you wrote. It states you need a drawing if a drawing is necessary to understand the invention. You state that you need a drawing if it is possible to render the invention as in illustration. You can highlight "By law" and add a link the USPTO page in your comment. I would then edit your answer to better reflect what is found at the link. – Eric S Sep 10 at 18:38

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