As I previously blogged, SIPO was considering amending its patent examination guidelines to permit design patent protection for graphical user interfaces (GUI’s). The new examination guidelines were promulgated by SIPO on March 12, 2014, with an effective date of May 1, 2014.
The revised examination guidelines remove the earlier (and antiquated) blanket prohibition against design patent protection for electrified screen designs. They also provide protection for dynamic (animated) graphical user interfaces. Designs which are unrelated to human-machine interaction or product function also remain unprotected under the revised examination guidelines. These excluded designs include video game interfaces, wallpaper, start-up and shut-down screens or graphic compositions in a web page. 游戏界面以及与人机交互无关或者与实现产品功能无关的产品显示装置所显示的图案，例如，电子屏幕壁纸、开关机画面、网站网页的图文排版。
March 24, 2018 edit: Here is an update on a first instance design patent infringement case involving a GUI, decided December 25, 2017 (Beijing Qihu technology co. Ltd. and Qizhi Software (Beijing) Co. Ltd v Beijing Jiangmin Technology Co. Ltd.), which unfortunately shows some of the limitations of the current regime. The authors do not however provide the docket number or the court.