02 October 2023
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton
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The USPTO has announced that the 1 millionth design patent
was just issued. The USPTO grants design patents for new, original,
and ornamental designs for an article of manufacture. Protecting
the way so،ing looks, as opposed to ،w it works (covered by a
utility patent), is a vital step for many small businesses.
One of the factors leading up to this milestone is the increase
in design patents for computer generated icons and certain aspects
of the graphical user interface (GUI) elements of a computer
program. A relatively recent Supreme Court decision has made it
more difficult to obtain utility patent protection for some of the
functional aspects of computer software. One way to at least
partially overcome this is to consider design patent
Design patents can be obtained for computer generated icons,
including GUIs and GUI elements. This is particularly important
because a sequence of computer generated icons—including
images that change in appearance during viewing—may be the
subject of a design patent claim. This enables coverage, for
example, for dynamic icons, a sequence of screen displays and
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice s،uld be sought
about your specific cir،stances.
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