I've made drawings to my patent application, presenting exemplary embodiment of a distributed network of nodes. I have few questions:

  1. Must the system diagrams, illustrating nodes in distributed network, be presented as hollow, rectangular shapes? I made them as hollow, elliptic shapes, is it important?
  2. I didn't include any words or letters in those elliptic shapes, like "Node 1", "Node Alice" or whatever. I left them completely hollow, because I feel that if everything is described in drawing's description, and the shapes themselves are referenced by numbers, there is no need to put anything in those shapes (they are clearly described as to what they are in the description itself). But I saw in other patent drawings that shapes are "named", even in presence of reference numbers. Why is that? Is it necessary?
  3. In my drawings I always use an exemplary embodiment. For example, I'm presenting a network composed of 3 nodes only. And I use commonly used exemplary names for those nodes, like "Alice", "Bob", "Carol". Is using names like those clearly "only exemplary" and won't cause problems (like someone saying that claimed invention uses precisely nodes named "Alice" or "Bob", so to design around you will only need to change the names of node)? It might seem a stupid question, but I'm really not sure.

2 Answers 2


There are rules for drawings but none require a particular shape to depict a representation of part of a system. While block are often named there is no requirement to do so. In fact for international purposes it is recommended not to becasue drawings do not get translated, unlike text.

And no one will get around a good claim by calling a subsystem "Sam" instead of "Bob.

  • And if I'm illustrating the system using an exemplary embodiment with only e.g. 4 nodes, will this limit my disclosure to system with 4 nodes only (I guess that it's a similar question to the one I've asked already, wherein the answer was that even in 1000-node system 4 nodes are still present, but that question related to claims, and this relates to drawings). Because in system drawings representing nodes in the network a certain number of nodes must be presented (drawing millions of nodes is not possible), I think this number won't matter, as example covers other possible numbers. Does it?
    – Leandro
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 11:41
  • I would explain in the text that the number of nodes is not limited.
    – George White
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 17:57
  • @Leandro The number of nodes is limited by what is in your claims. The specification supports the claims.
    – Eric S
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 23:10

Must the system diagrams, illustrating nodes in distributed network, be presented as hollow, rectangular shapes? I made them as hollow, elliptic shapes, is it important? - In utility patent application shape do not matter only function matters, if a function can be achieved in a particular shape then use that shape otherwise in the description you can write shape can by in any form like hallo or rectangle etc.

For your question 2 - you should not include a description in drawings according to USPTO rules, you can refer to USPTO rules /requirements on patent drawings.

For your question 3 - the names of nodes will not limit your protection.

  • I added quoting for the OP's question. Welcome to Ask Patents.
    – Eric S
    Commented Sep 5, 2020 at 15:19
  • Thank you Eric for quoting question. Thank you for welcoming me to Ask Patents, I look forward to adding value to the community
    – Tara Reddy
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 5:59
  • Please disclose you're working for the company you're linking to. CC @EricS
    – Mast
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 9:12
  • You really should disclose any relationship to a linked company. Probably better would be to link to the corresponding USPTO documentation relating to drawings.
    – Eric S
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 23:12

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