Is it acceptable to use a drawing that shows the invention alongside the current state of the art where the invention is not used. In case where such drawing would make the claims more clear?

E.g. considering a hypothetical patent for a ballpoint pen with a spring-assisted retractable nib, we'd show a ballpoint pen with a fixed nib and an invention where the ballpoint has a spring-assisted retractable nib?

2 Answers 2


Comparison is a great idea.

I suggest you draw the separate two drawings, i.e. the prior art and the invention, on the same sheet of paper as you would like to have it, in a way it is easy to compare the two. And then simply name the old design as "Figure 1 - Prior art" and the new design "Figure 2".

You are allowed to draw more than one Figure on a single sheet of paper. Just handle them as two separate drawings next to each other and it will be fine.


If you do this, clearly label it as not part of the invention. There are downsides to a close comparison to something that is in the prior art with or without an illustration.

Be careful with your ideas about clear claims. To get broad coverage you do not want all claims to be “picture” claims where words literally describe a specific embodiment.

You might also want to research “admitted prior art”.

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