(By You Yunting) In our previous post, we introduced that Graphical user interface (the “GUI”) for software has not been protected in China. However, State Intellectual Property Office (the “SIPO”) suggested protecting the GUI in the latest Draft Revision of the Patent Examination Guidelines (the “Draft Revision”) on October 22, 2013. Recently, in the publication of the Decision of SIPO on Amending the Patent Examination Guidelines, It is the GUI that is protected by the Patent Law as of May 1, 2014.
Pursuant to the 2010 version of Patent Examination Guidelines by the SIPO, the GUI for software is excluded from the design patent protection, particular Item 11, Article 7.4 stipulating “visible images of a device after the device keep normal power”. For example, visible images on watch-face of electronic watches, or visible images on telephones screen or software screen, etc., are executed from any circumstances of granting a design patent.
The Draft Revision attempted to change the aforementioned article as following: “display images of a device’s visual indicators that irrelevant to human-computer interaction (the “HCI”) or the achievement of device’s function”, for example, electronic screen wallpapers, or images of a device that irrelevant to the HCI or the achievement of a device’s function in the process for on-off, or, PageMaker or game interface of a website that irrelevant to the web’s function are executed from any circumstances of granting a design patent.
The Official 2014 version of the Patent Examination Guidelines revised the Item 11, Article 7.4 re-stipulating as follows:
“Display images of a device’s visual indicators that irrelevant to game interface and human-computer interaction (the “HCI”) or the achievement of device’s function, for example, electronic screen wallpapers, images of a device, or pagemaker that irrelevant to the HCI or the achievement of a device’s function in the process for on-off, are executed from any circumstances of granting a design patent.”
The SIPO had also revised the other responding contents relevant to the GUI protection in the following.
1. Clearing the specific image in the application of design patent
A new paragraph is added behind the Paragraph 3, Segment 4.2 for drawings or photographs, Chapter 3 of Part 1 as follows: a design consisting of the GUI shall submit an overall view on product appearance perception. In the event that the GUI is a dynamic, applicant shall at least submit a status of the overall view on product appearance perception and might submit views of moving keys under the other status where the views submitted shall determine the changes in trends of the dynamic views.
2. Explicit contents in the application of patent design
Under the Paragraph 3, Segment 4.3 for Brief Explanation, Chapter 3, Part 1 of the 2014 version of Patent Examination Guidelines, a new content is added as the 7th Part: any application of patent design including a graphic user interface shall be needed to interpret the purpose, the placement, the human-computer interaction, the changing states, etc., of the GUI.
3. Clarifying the protection for the GUI
The last sentence that “the pattern of a product shall be permanent and visible, and not flickering or visible only under specific conditions” is deleted. This sentence is in the Paragraph 3, Segment 7.2 for Shape, Pattern, or Their Combination, Combination of Color with Shape and/or Pattern under Chapter 3, Part 1.
4. Updating that new patent design shall focus on the visual distinctiveness of the overall view
A new item is added as the 5th part in the Paragraph 2, Segment 6.1 for Comparison with the Prior Design of the Product of the Same or Approximate Category Under Chapter 5, Part 1. The new item is followed that, where design concludes GUIL, if the other parts of the involved patent are general design, the graphic user interface shall have more notable influence on the overall visual effect.