13/143,209 - Color Drawings Petition DENIED: In Jul. 2011, the Applicant filed a Petition for Color Drawings in 13/143, 209 ("Electromagnetic Radiation Mapping System"). The Petition stated:
Applicant asserts that the color found in the attached Figures is significant to the understanding of the invention. The necessity for the Color Drawings is to clearly show the maps and graphs of the figures.
13/031,293 - Color Drawings Petition DENIED: In Feb. 2011, the Applicant for 13/031,293 ("Method and System for Detecting Light") filed the application and a Color Drawings Petition.The petition included the following explanation:
Applicant asserts that the color found in the attached Figures is significant to the understanding of the invention. The necessity for the Color Drawings is to distinguish the different lines.
The Office has determined that color drawings or photographs are not the only practical medium by which to disclose in a printed utility patent the subject matter to be patented. As such, color drawings or photographs are not necessary for an understanding of the invention sought to be patented.13/200,784 - Color Drawings Petition GRANTED: In Aug. 2007, the Applicant filed application 13/200,784 ("Method And System For Dynamic, Three-dimensional Geological Interpretation And Modeling"). The specification described one of the drawings, FIG. 16, as "exhibit[ing] integrating stratigraphic erosional rules into the present geological interpretation system."
Applicant believes the detail contained within the drawings cannot be fully captured using black and white drawings ... The present disclosure allows the analyzing and interpreting of geological information associated with a geologic region [and] creation of three-dimensional graphic displays [of the information]. Accordingly, the color figures support properly conveying the form of the graphical displays.At Notice of Allowance, the Petition was undecided. After the issue fee was paid, the Petition was granted by a Quality Control Specialist in the Publications Branch. The Decision indicated that "the petition was accompanied by all of the required fees and drawings" and "the specification contains the appropriate language."
13/200,784 - Color Drawings Petition GRANTED: The Applicant for 13/200,784 ("Interferometric Modulation Devices Having Triangular Subpixels") filed the application and a Color Drawings Petition in Sep. 2011. The petition included the following explanation:
The color drawings are believed to be the most practical method (and may be the only practical method) of accurately illustrating the different subpixel colors, groupings of subpixel colors, etc. Some of these drawings (Figs. 11A through 11C) not only depict different subpixel colors and groupings of subpixel layers, but also depict different groupings of subpixel colors underneath an "M1" layer.
My two cents: I'm not surprised to see Applicants filing Color Petitions for graphs and charts. The use of color can certainly make complicated graphs and charts easier to understand. However, color isn't the only way to convey that information. For example, I've seen black and white charts that use different types of dashed lines for different data series, or Xs and Os for the data points, etc.
Maybe this was the reason why the Petition in the first and second xamples above were denied. Hard to say, as no explanation was given.
The third example would be a little harder to do in black and white, but you could still use different types of fill instead of color. I think the last example comes closest to "only practical medium" standard set out in the CFR. Yes, you could distinguish the subpixels with different type of fill. But this particular drawing has a lot of different regions close together, so that would probably be a mess. So, color makes sense.
However, as I read the Petition Decision on this subpixels application, the Petition wasn't really granted on the merits. That is, the Petition doesn't say "the Office has determined that color is necessary." It just says the Applicant checked all the right boxes.
These eight Color Drawing Petition Decisions (this post and the last) are such a tiny sample size that it's hard to draw any real conclusions about what it takes to get Color Drawings accepted. That said, I wonder if one factor is the branch of the PTO that looks at the Petition. A Petitions Examiner looked at 3 of these 8 Petitions, and 2 of those 3 were denied. And the single one granted by a Petitions Examiner was the drawing with the most persuasive reason for color. In contrast, all 5 of the Petitions processed by something other than the Petitions Office were granted with virtually no explanation.