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To stay current with the latest technologies and to promote the development in digital innovation, TIPO reviewed design patent legal regimes and published the partial amendment to Chapter III: Substantive Examination of Design Patents of The Examination Guidelines for Patents, which is due to take effect on November 1, 2020. The prior restriction that computer generated icon (CGI) and graphical user interface (GUI) design patent applications must be applied to an article was lifted. The requirements for the disclosure of a design patent application were also relaxed. These latest changes will enable software businesses to obtain design patent protection more easily and more comprehensively.
TIPO receives nearly 8,000 design patent applications every year. Prior to this amendment, software businesses or designers wishing to obtain design patent protection for their CGIs or GUIs were required to indicate the physical products, such as a screen, a display or a smartphone, to which their designs applied. However, as technologies continue to advance, graphic designs are not necessarily being represented on the display device of physical products. Rather, graphic designs can now be projected in the air, or be represented among us when we are wearing VR/AR gadgets.
In addition, the designers who create these graphics are usually software developers rather than manufacturers of hardware or products such as screens, displays, or smartphones. To them, graphic designs are essentially part of the software that can also be applied to different kinds of digital products. The protection granted therefore should not be limited only to designs applied to certain types of physical products. Considering the above, this latest amendment allows graphic design registrations for non-physical software or apps. This is to align with today’s technological development and the actual needs in the industrial sector.
Apart from the aforementioned revision, this amendment also adds constructions and interior designs to the examples of subject matter for design patent protection, and relaxes the requirements relating to the disclosure of descriptions and drawings, as well as those governing divisional application.
This amendment to the Guidelines is expected to allow applicants to file patent applications more easily and flexibly and at the same time obtain more comprehensive protection for their designs. Through gradual review and update of IPR legal regime, TIPO hopes to assist industries in their efforts for innovation, enhance Taiwan’s industrial competitiveness, and bring the vision “Digital Nation, Smart Island” towards ultimate fruition.