Is it legally allowed to use images, which are obtained from patent forms, possibly with modifying/coloring them or left as is, inside youtube videos? In the same vein with images how about the text i.e., are patent description texts in the public domain so that the patent description can be contained in a video?

1 Answer 1


The government's position is that material in the patent documents is generally in the public domain

See Public Domain Copyright Trademark & Patent Information Schedule:

As part of the terms of granting the patent to the inventor, patents are published into the public domain.

And slightly more specific, see Terms of Use for USPTO websites: Patents:

Subject to limited exceptions reflected in 37 CFR 1.71(d) & (e) and 1.84(s), the text and drawings of a patent are typically not subject to copyright restrictions.

1.71(d) allows for the patent author to specifically indicate that some of the material is protected by copyright.

But that position has not actually been tested in courts

However, there is no actual statute explicitly exempting material in the patent documents from copyright nor any case law holding that in the absence of a notice, the material in fact becomes public domain. See Alderucci, "The surprising consequences of exempting patents from copyright protection (2016), at p. 13 and footnote 62.

  • So, unless explicitly stated in the patent description, by default, text and drawings are re-useable by others without even having to credit its source(as a consequence of being in the public domain)? Thank you
    – b.g.
    Feb 28, 2023 at 19:13
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    @b.g. A shorthand is everyone treats it as public domain and there has not been enough pushback for it to ever be 100% settled. Feb 28, 2023 at 19:36
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    @b.g. But if you don't credit the source, someone is just going to copy it without knowing that it is from a patent. You can do some good with minimal effort by stating the source to stop people wasting time. Mar 1, 2023 at 12:58
  • I would think the sensible approach would be to say that, for purpose of fair use determinations, all of the material within a patent may be deemed "necessary" for the purpose of discussing the patent within which it appears, but publication in a patent shouldn't imply that the material is public domain for arbitrary other purposes.
    – supercat
    Mar 1, 2023 at 19:52

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