11/925,065 - Color Drawings Petition GRANTED Jun. 2010: The Applicant for 11/925,065 filed an application with a petition to accept 3 of the 6 drawings in color. The application was titled "Transmitting Information Effectively in Server/Client Network". The black & white version of one of the color drawings, from from the patent publication, is shown below:
As an explanation for why color was necessary, the Applicant stated:
...the use of color drawings is necessary to differentiate the information and the direction of travel of the information in the server/client network. The use of color drawings for these features of the present invention is considered essential.After being assigned to an Art Unit, but before examination began, a Quality Assurance Specialist in T.C. 2400 granted the petition. The Decision did not comment on the sufficiency of the Applicant's explanation, noting only that conditions (i), (ii), and (iii) of §1.84(a)(2) were met.
12/288,158 - Color Drawings Petition GRANTED Aug. 2010: The Applicant for 12/288,158 filed an application ("NLP-Based Entity Recognition and Disambiguation") with a petition to accept several user interface screen shots as color drawings. The black & white version of one of these drawings, from the patent publication, is shown below:
11/495,229 - Color Drawings Petition Granted Jun. 2007: The Applicant for 11/495,229 filed an application ("Interactive Computer Simulation Enhanced Exercise Machine") with a petition to accept color photographs. The black & white version of one of these photographs, from the patent publication, is shown below:
Color drawings are the only practical medium by which to disclose the simulated environment developed and generated by the disclosed subject matter of to the patent... Such details and contrast between the environment objects are only provided in color and would be lacking in a black & white photograph.Six months after filing, the Petition was granted by a Supervisory Patent Examiner in T.C. 3700. The SPE treated the Petition as one to accept Color Photographs, since it referred to both §1.84(a) and §1.84(b) and included copies of the photographs in both black & white and color. The Decision did not comment on the sufficient of the Applicant's reason for color. Instead, the SPE simply noted that the Applicant had complied with the color photograph requirements of §1.84(b) by submitting the appropriate fee, a statement in the spec referring to color drawings, three sets of color drawings, and "a black and white photocopy accurately depicting, to the extent possible, the subject matter shown in the color drawing."
13/033,384 - Color Drawings Petition GRANTED Mar. 2011: The Applicant for 13/033,384 filed an application ("Method for Embedding Secret Message into PNG Image") with a petition to accept several drawings in color. The specification described two of the color drawings as showing "an image before a secret message is embedded" and "the same image ... after the secret message is embedded." The black & white version of these drawings, from the patent publication, is shown below:
My two cents: Seriously? You really think you need color drawings for a block diagram, a run-of-the-mill user interface, and a screen shot of a exercise simulation? The only one of these four for which color seems necessary is the last one, the one illustrating embedding a secret message. Although I can't see any difference in the publication between before and after the embedding, I can imagine that such a difference could only be expressed in color.
But there's no way you need color for the block diagram of the computer network -- the drawing already
uses different dashed lines to distinguish the difference in direction! As for the second example, not only is color not strictly necessary for the user interface, I don't even think it adds anything useful over a line drawing. Finally, the screen shot of the exercise simulation looks terrible, and line drawings would have shown the features much better.
What's the thinking here? Do patent practitioners submit color drawings simply because the drawings provided by the client are in color? Or is the rationale to save money? Note that the petition fee is only $130, and it wouldn't surprise me that a complicated user interface or screen shot would cost more than $130 to prepare as a line drawing.
I think the PTO should provide some guidance on what is an acceptable reason for color drawings. Is the bar for the "necessary as the only practical medium" requirement of §1.84 really this low?