The SIPO announced on March 17, 2014 that the Examination Guideline (version 2010) is amended to allow GUI related design applications to be granted as of May 1, 2014.
The amendments allow the GUI related design shown after a product is electrified to be patentable subject matter, specify the requirements on the drawings and brief description regarding GUI related design applications, and provide the guidance regarding the patentability determination on GUI related design patent. However, the amendments exclude the GUIs which are irrelevant to human-machine interaction, such as the game interface, the wallpaper for decoration as well as the web-page layout from being patentable.
The amendments were made to harmonize the rapid UI technology development in the recent years that influents the related industries widely from end-user electronic devices to automobiles, home appliance to medical device, almost every technical field in which user interface is involved. The amendments provide a new tool for IPR owners to increase the values of their IP in China. However, as the SIPO has special practice regarding the application documents for GUI designs, the applicants are advised to carefully prepare drawings and related description, in order to obtain strong and enforceable GUI design patents.