Changes to design and utility model patent applications in China
Extending design patent protection to software graphical user interface designs
On 12 March 2014, the SIPO announced and implemented the Decisions on Revision of the Patent Examination Guidelines by SIPO Order No. 68 (the “No. 68 Decisions”) eﬀective from 1 May 2014. The decision extends design patent protection to software graphical user interface (”GUI”) designs.
Previously, Section 7.4.11 of Chapter 3 of Part 1 of the Guidelines stipulated that software graphical user interface (“GUI”) designs, such as pattern displayed on a phone screen and software interface, are not patentable subject matter. After the implementation of the No. 68 Decisions, Section 7.4.11 has been amended such that GUI designs such as game interfaces, displays which are not related to functionality or man-machine interfaces, can now be subject of patent protection.
To accommodate for the change, the No. 68 Decisions made further amendments to various sections of the Guidelines to emphasize the signiﬁcance of the GUI to the overall visual eﬀect of the design and to provide expressly for the requirements of ﬁgures and speciﬁcations to be submitted for product design patent applications which incorporate GUI.