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Read the ECTA Design Committee Working Paper on Graphical User Interfaces
Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) allow users to interact with graphics appearing on electronic devices (e.g. smartphones), typically by clicking on the screen icons to execute commands of the program or, in extension, the device. GUIs are then directly connected to user experience with a relevant impact on the consumers' choice of products and companies devote significant resources to their development. This means that appropriate IP protection of GUIs is a relevant economic issue and, according to recent WIPO statistics, this is among the fastest-growing areas of design applications.

In light of this, the Design Committee has worked on a paper which explains the current state of play of GUIs and their eligibility for design protection, regardless of the possibility of claiming copyright protection in some cases. The paper also focuses on the most relevant challenges users can face when obtaining protection, as well as addresses those posed by animated GUIs and the problematic limitation of the number of views when representing designs in applications. The relationship of GUIs with the physical product to which it is applied is also a key aspect to be considered by users. Other practical aspects for design applications for GUIs are highlighted by way of example. Particularly, in an international context, special requirements in different jurisdictions should be born in mind when devising a filing strategy to obtain protection.

The paper is available for ECTA members only in the Private Site/Library/Project Reports.


We thank the ECTA Design Committee Leaders, project leaders Luis Soriano Albert (Hoffmann Eitle | Patent- und Rechtsanwälte PartmbB, DE) and Emanuel Boesch (Hule Bachmayr-Heyda Nordberg Rechtsanwälte GmbH, AT) and all team members of the working group, who brought this project to fruition for the benefit of the ECTA community.
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