The mark down for figures is quite clear. This question is about where to get figures from.

The boilerplate for prior art requests contains a figure from the patent application. See for example this recent question.

It seems to use an image hosting service. In an answer, I directly used the image from Google Patents, but it seems to not appear.

Is there any guideline about this? Should such guideline mention something about figure copyright?

2 Answers 2


Forgive the over-explanation of the process for other users who may have this same question in the future...

Here is the standard way of getting images into a question on Ask Patents:

Google Patents

Use Google Patents to find the subject application. Usually the images are listed along the middle ribbon as follows:

Public PAIR

In some cases, the patent application is too new and images don't appear in Google Patents even though you can see the rest of the application. In those cases I use Public PAIR to look at the File Wrapper. Note that logging into Public PAIR is a pain... you'll want to search by Publication Number and the number must be copied EXACTLY with spaces and trailing information.

For example, a recently published application "US20130110664A1" can't be found on Public PAIR by searching "US20130110664A1", "US 20130110664A1", "US20130110664 A1" or "US 20130110664". You'd need to use the string "US 20130110664 A1" to retrieve it.

Within Public PAIR you'd want to look under "Image File Wrapper" and look for document type DRW - Drawing Only Black & White Line Drawing. DRW type is a PDF of the actual images sent by the applicant to the USPTO and included in the file history.

Screen Shot

I use Jing on Mac and save to the desktop.

Host the Image

Ask Patents uses imgur. The easiest way is to take the image you have saved to the desktop and upload it yourself. Copy the URL from imgur when you do this

Post the Image

You can upload the image from the Markdown buttons on Ask Patents or you can just copy the display image HTML into your question, where the URL is of course substituted by the image URL you have just created:

<p><img src="https://i.stack.imgur.com/MneZJ.png" width="400" height="300">"

  • 1
    For searching on Public Pair (or Private Pair), I always use the application number (13/281,520 or 13281520 in your example). It's one less click to a radio button and less prone to parsing errors.
    – Paul Guyot
    Aug 7, 2013 at 4:31

I'm seeing an image in the answer you reference.

Imgur is the default image hosting service we use.

As a general rule, we like to include an image if it is helpful in quickly communicating the idea behind a patent, application or piece of prior art. By no means is including an image in a request for prior art required, but we've found it can be helpful in grabbing a reader's attention.

As for whether patent drawings are copyright, IANAL, but most lawyers would say "it depends." Even if a patent drawing is copyright, using one at Ask Patents to help describe a patent may be transformative enough to constitute fair use.

  • There have been many discussions recently on the usage of images in patents, especially in further patent applications filed by another applicant...
    – Paul Guyot
    Aug 7, 2013 at 5:15

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .