Asia Patent Alliance
 It is now possible to protect digital screen designs in China!
It is now possible to protect digital screen designs in China!

 

On May 1 2014, the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China (Sipo) revised the examination standard for design patents. Graphical user interfaces (GUI or digital screen designs) have been added to the protection scope of design patents. Recently several displays for smartphones, car control panels, ATMs, etc, have been created whose respective functions are controlled by touch panels. For products with digital screen designs aimed at the Chinese market, from now on it will be required to obtain protection for the design, as well as to conduct a research to find out if the product is infringing screen design patents of rival companies.

Also for changing GUIs it is possible to register a design by submitting several drawings that show the change. In China there is no system that allows filing of partial designs, so when submitting the drawings it is required to submit drawings of the product including the user interface. It will be interesting to see how the scope of the protection of design patents will be judged in relation with the shape of parts other than the screen.

The new examination standard says: “game interfaces and interfaces that are not interactive, as well as designs that are shown on display devices not used for realization of the product function” do not fall under the protection. Besides game interfaces the following designs can be mentioned as examples for excluded designs: digital wallpapers, booting screens, web site layouts, etc. On the other hand interfaces that act interactive with the user fall under the protection of the design patent.

Unlike in Japan, it is not required that the screen design is installed into the device from the beginning. We summarised the new situation in Japan, China and Korea with revision of the examination standard in China in the below table.

Summary of digital screen design protection in Japan, Korea and China (Mai, 2014)

 

Protection of digital screens by the design law

Necessity of function or operability

Images downloaded to the terminal from internet

Japan

Yes

Yes

No

China

Yes

Yes

Yes

Korea

Yes

No

Yes