Design patents for graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and computer-generated icons are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. and abroad, with large technology companies enhancing their patent portfolios in this regard as the strategic value of such patents becomes more evident. One high-profile, high-stakes case illustrating this point is the ongoing patent infringement saga between Apple and Samsung, which involves several design patents directed to GUIs and computer-generated icons. Other large technology companies, such as Microsoft and Sony, are also active in the area of design patent protection for GUIs and computer-generated icons.
Whether patent protection is available for GUIs and computer-generated icons differs from country to country, and the various laws in this area are constantly evolving, or at the very least are hot topics for discussion. For example, Taiwan’s new Patent Act, which took effect on January 1, 2013, broadened the scope of design patent protection to GUIs and computer-generated icons, among others areas.
Also, as previously reported, during the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Design Day earlier this year, Japanese Patent Office (JPO) representative Mr. Omine, Deputy Director, Design Policy Section, International Affairs Division, presented on the topic of recent developments regarding design protection for graphical user interfaces GUIs before the JPO.
Less than a year ago, Oblon Spivak hosted a delegation from the Japanese Patent Office, including Messrs. Masato Yamada (Director of Legislative Affairs), Takao Seino, Tatsuya Suto, and Masashi Nemoto. Design protection for GUIs and computer-generated icons in the U.S. and Japan was a major topic of discussion.