The USPTO has published supplemental guidance for examining design patent applications of Graphic User Interfaces (GUIs)

On November 17, 2023, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published supplemental guidance on how design patents “related to Computer-Generated Electronic Images, Including Computer-Generated Icons and Graphical User Interfaces” should be examined.  Under the supplemental guidance, the USPTO has determined that “the mere display of a computer-generated electronic image that is not a computer icon or a GUI shown on a display panel does not constitute statutory subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 171.”  To determine this, the guidelines set forth a two-step procedure for USPTO personnel to perform, which includes:

  • “Review[ing] the title and claim language to determine whether the title and claim language adequately describe a design for an article of manufacture;” and
  • “Review[ing] the drawing[s] to determine whether a display panel, or a portion thereof, is shown in sufficient views to fully disclose the design as embodied in the article.”

The USPTO provides additional examples to help illuminate how to make this platform work.  In a first example, an application that is entitled a “Computer Display Screen with Icon” is permissible.  However, an application entitled “Icon” is not permissible and should be amended to include an article of manufacture, such as a display screen.  Further examples of non-permissible embodiments include drawings that do not have boundary lines representing a portion of a display screen.  To resolve this issue, the applicant should amend the drawings to include both the boundary lines and a corresponding portion in the description.

This supplemental guidance is applicable as of November 17, 2023.