Relaxation of design patent legislation to avail digital industry
E201019Y1 | Nov. 2020（E252）
As reported in the Taiwan IPO’s news release, to keep abreast with the development of the emerging technologies and the promotion of digital innovation, Taiwan IPO reviewed the design patent legal regime and published the amendment to part of “Chapter III: Substantive Examination of Design Patents of the Examination Guidelines for Patents” on September 29, 2020, which has taken effect as of November 1, 2020. The amendment lifts the restriction that design patents for computer generated icon (CGI) and graphical user interface (GUI) must be applied to physical articles and also relaxes the requirements for disclosure of a design patent application, which makes design patent protection more comprehensive and accessible to software businesses.
Taiwan IPO has been receiving nearly 8,000 applications for design patents every year. Prior to this amendment, software businesses or designers should specify a certain physical article, such as, screen, a display, or smartphone, to which their proposed CGIs or GUIs were applied, in order to acquire design patent protection for such CGIs or GUIs. With the development of emerging technologies, however, graphic designs are no longer necessarily represented on such traditional physical products including display devices, as graphic designs can also be projected in the air or represented among us through VR/AR gadgets.
Moreover, it is a fact that designers of graphics are usually software developers, instead of manufacturers of such hardware equipment or products as screens, displays, or smartphones. To these designers, graphic designs are part of the software that can generally be applied to all kinds of digital products. Under such concept, the scope of protection should not be limited to the designs that are applied to certain physical articles. In view of the foregoing, this amendment removes the aforesaid restriction and enlarges the scope of protection to graphic designs that are applied to non-physical software or apps, such as, computer program products, so as to stay current with the technological development and the actual needs in the industry.
In addition to the provisions governing graphic designs, this amendment also relaxes the requirements relating to the disclosure of descriptions and drawings and the regulations governing divisional applications and also specifically and clearly adds buildings and internal designs as the subject maters eligible for patent protection.
This amendment to the Guidelines is expected to allow applicants to file patent applications more easily and flexibly and also obtain more comprehensive protection for their designs. Taiwan IPO hopes to assist the industry to keep innovative and enhance competitiveness of the industry and further to realize the vision of “Digital Nation, Smart Island” through gradual review and update of IPR legal regime. (Released 2020.10.19)