I am doing a publication using a specific optical instrument protected by different patents. To see how it works I opened it and I have redrawn the arrangement of the optical components. Am I allow to publish my drawing for explaining the physical principle behind the measurements I have performed during my research?

It's not a reverse engineered designed, there are no specific distances between the components or other relevant details for the construction. I am showing an abstraction but more or less the parts and the arrangement is the same as the real one.

The drwaings, are of course mine. I would like to publish on my PhD thesis in Italy, but in general I am interested on any pubblication.

  • What is your legal jurisdiction? Italy?
    – msanford
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 16:18
  • Ask your university's legal department. In principle, all below answers apply, but increasingly there is an overreach of companies to try and prevent any type of analysis of their designs, even if in the past this would not be protected. Unless you want to make a point, of course, but your post seems to indicate you are more on the cautious side. Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 12:10

2 Answers 2


If the device is protected by patents, the filed patents contains all relevant information about its design, its function and its protected claims. Therefore, I think publishing a high-level summary of how it works should not be a problem at all. In fact, you might want to read the relevant patents to verify your understanding of the device!

  • 1
    Well, part could be patented while part was not. However, given you can buy the instrument and take it apart, any proprietary bits are going to be in how it got assembled, not the layout itself. Unless, of course, there was an NDA or other restriction in place about what could be done to the system when purchased.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 16:26
  • However much one wants to read patents, they are often not very readable. Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 14:53

Following up on the answer of HairyBlob, you are also safe from copyright issues (a separate thing) if you are using your own drawings, especially if they are an abstraction of the ideas in the patent.

There is no restriction on public discussion of patents (most places). In fact the patent process requires disclosure. But you can't republish copyright material. And your description suggests you aren't doing that.

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