A Revised Examination Guideline for GUI’s Protection – SIPO

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GUI is a Program Interface that takes advantage of the computer’s graphics capabilities to make the program easier to use. The design of graphical user interfaces (GUI) is an essential part of Smart phones, tablets and PC Software, it can make the difference and strongly contribute to gain market share. Therefore, graphical interfaces have become a valuable asset worth to be protected. We interact with graphical user interfaces (GUIs) every day through phones, computers, gaming devices, ATMs, and other electronic devices. GUIs are simply the icons, screen layout, and visual cues that we utilize to control these devices. The use of GUIs is on the rise, spanning many areas of technology including home appliances, airline check-in kiosks, and office equipment, among others.

There have been several discussions over protecting the GUI (Graphical User Interface). Recently, China has decided to provide Design Protection for GUI. The State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) issued a revised Examination Guideline on April 23rd. The new rules will be effective from May 1, 2014.
The revised guidelines reflect the following changes:

1. Removal of the general prohibition on electrified screen designs for design patent protection;
2. Removal of the prohibition against designs being fixed and non-animated;
3. Addition of a new requirement for design patent applications to include the location of the GUI in the overall product;
4. Inclusions of brief explanation of the design patent required in the patent application
a. It should explain the use of the GUI;
b. And clarify what constitutes a “significant difference in design” of a product when a GUI is added to an existing product.

In this regard SIPO specifically mentions on-screen wallpapers, start-up and shut-down screen views and graphic or text elements of a web pages as excluded subject matter. Chinese patent design protection of the granted GUI design will likely be limited to that specific product that is represented in the submitted drawings or photographs.

by Akshatha Karthik

Photo credit: albyantoniazzi//Flickr.com / CC BY-SA 2.0

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