I'm thinking of using the following scheme for label-numbering the elements of patent drawings. Is there any reason it can't be used?

Each element has its "home-drawing" where it is presented with the best most detailed view of it. This "home-figure" is given the number N. In this home-drawing the element is given as label N.M where N is the number of the figure and N is an integer starting from 1 in each figure. So figure 1 might have elements 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 etc.

But some elements in a diagram "refer" to elements which are described in more detail in other drawings. Such a reference is given the same number as in its "home drawing" followed by one or more primes (') to indicate it is a reference and more detail about that element can be found by finding the element without the prime(s) in its label in some other diagram.

Thus every element across all drawings has a unique label-number but at the same time primed labels indicate that the same element is described with additional detail elsewhere, and is easy to find simply by looking up the figure that is the integer-part of the element.

Would this be an acceptable labeling scheme?


No. There are standards for drawings and the numbering of drawings.

See MPEP - 37 CFR 1.84 Standards for drawings.

(u) Numbering of views. (1) The different views must be numbered in consecutive Arabic numerals, starting with 1, independent of the numbering of the sheets and, if possible, in the order in which they appear on the drawing sheet(s). Partial views intended to form one complete view, on one or several sheets, must be identified by the same number followed by a capital letter. View numbers must be preceded by the abbreviation “FIG.” Where only a single view is used in an application to illustrate the claimed invention, it must not be numbered and the abbreviation “FIG.” must not appear. (2) Numbers and letters identifying the views must be simple and clear and must not be used in association with brackets, circles, or inverted commas. The view numbers must be larger than the numbers used for reference characters.

See the MPEP for many, many more formatting rules.

Even if there were not rules for drawing numbering, it would be wise to put your inventiveness into your invention and not into non-standard notations that might seem easy to your but would be unexpected by the reader.

  • That is very useful information thank you, "There are standards for drawings and the numbering of drawings." So elements inside a drawing can be labeled anyway that makes them uniquely identifiable. Note that was my main question. The rules for giving a number to each drawing are pretty clear from the citation you provided. As far as I can see it says nothing about how to label-number the elements inside the figures. For instance I've read that some people advocate the use of "primes" as suffixes to label numbers in some cases. – Panu Logic Apr 3 at 1:43
  • 1
    I use prime quite a bit for elements that are similar. Also L and R appended to a number is ofter seem. – George White Apr 3 at 2:37

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