Microsoft granted patent on Metro UI? (updated)

Good news for Microsoft as their patent for the Metro UI, filed under "Visual motion for user interface feedback", has been approved by the USPTO. The patent was originally filed in early 2010 but finally approved on August 18th. We're still waiting on the official patent number to appear, which we're told usually takes a few days to be generated and listed--for now we have the issue date within the application itself. From the application abstract comes a very abstract description of the UI:

"Aspects of a user interface that provides visual feedback in response to user input. For example, boundary effects are presented to provide visual cues to a user to indicate that a boundary in a movable user interface element (e.g., the end of a scrollable list) has been reached. As another example, parallax effects are presented in which multiple parallel or substantially parallel layers in a multi-layer user interface move at different rates, in response to user input. As another example, simulated inertia motion of UI elements is used to provide a more natural feel for touch input. Various combinations of features are described. For example, simulated inertia motion can be used in combination with parallax effects, boundary effects, or other types of visual feedback. "

This is of course a welcomed approval as Microsoft gets to use Metro on the Xbox, Windows 8 and Windows Phone without fear that someone can come along and just lift it. This extra protection is especially important in this case since one could argue 'Metro' is the new look and feel of Microsoft and with it being so successful for them, it stands that they would want it protected. All we know is we're glad we don't have to write up patent applications. Eghads that's boring.

Source: USPTO (patent application) via; Thanks, Sander G., for the tip!

Update: We did a little more digging on this based on your comments.  The patent process is about as confusing as the way the some of the applications are written.  The August 18, 2011 date could have meant two things, approval or publication.  A delay between approval and assigning a patent number is not uncommon and it appeared as if the date was an approval date.

In discussing this with a patent agent, we have confirmed that the date is the publication date.  The application has now been docketed for examination and prosecution.  The USPTO will review the sixteen claims from Microsoft and basically rule whether or not Microsoft has a legitimate claim on these inventions.  There is no time frame on the examination and prosecution but it is usually lengthy and solely at the discretion of the USPTO as to how fast things roll.

So, for now, Microsoft hasn't been awarded the patent on Metro UI but is one step closer on what could be a very lengthy journey.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Sweet, that will come in handy when Google inevitably try to rip us off.
  • "Us"? Do you work for Microsoft?
  •'s your reason for "us".
  • this patent granting is the best news all week.Cant wait for google to pay for copying like they always do.
  • They won't have to pay for something that has already been around. Called prior art/tech.
  • Because this hasn't already been in android and IOS. Another dumb patent that MS will try and get money off of.
  • Makes sense, and this patent isn't vague or generic etc, look at the pic in the filing, I think that's as specific as it gets when it comes to UI.
  • At first I thought it was kind of ridiculous that one could patent a UI theme, but after looking at the specificity of the patent filing, and of the realization in the last paragraph about how this indeed will be a Unified UI throughout all of Microsoft's products, I suppose it makes perfect sense to be so protective of it.
  • Good news for Microsoft, but terrible news for consumers. Metro has some original ideas, but it by and large is nothing new. Chromeless UIs have been around forever. Even panoramic UIs are not original. The USPTO never fails to disappoint when it comes to software patents.The only thing that patent will be used for is "patent arsenals" when the big players (Google, MS, Apple) continue to go head to head.I'm sure the fanbois are happy because it's a "go team go" moment here for their hero OS, but the net effect of this will not be protection of MS from ripping off from Google. What will happen is that it will help further cement who can enter the mobile market. It doesn't hurt Google at all because for every patent MS has, Google will counter with their own. They'll agree to "cross license" each other and lay off their lawyers. Meanwhile, the next truly innovative start-up will be sued into oblivion by MS, Google, and Apple. Let the oligopoly continue! Everybody cheer!Now don't think for a second I'm singling out MS here. I'm just mentioning them most because of the post. But Google and Apple are JUST as guilty. In fact, Google's purchase of Motorola was for its patent portfolio. And Apple? They are the kings of patenting **** that shouldn't be patentable.
  • why en cojos join a WP centric site of all you're going to do is bash MS and their right to protect their property
  • So you want a site full of sycophants, rather than reasoned and intelligent discussion? How boring.
  • he's not looking for an intelligent discussion. he's looking to attack judged by his wording and if u can't see that then something really must be wrong with u.
  • "Meanwhile, the next truly innovative start-up will be sued into oblivion by MS, Google, and Apple. "Well if the new start-up doesn't want to get sued they can always license the right to use IP in question. Generally speaking, patents will not hurt innovation as long as the company bringing something new to the party doesn't use IP that is not licensed from the rightful owner. Pay the pimp and you can innovate all you want.
  • c.r.a.p was censored? Seriously? LOL. Nice.
  • The metro UI is actually one of the most original UI to come out of the last decade. It makes sense for Microsoft to protect their investment, especially given the cross device nature of the system in the near future.One could even argue for their second patent, the predictive soft keyboard. As much as Google and Apple may use it now, Microsoft has had it since the late 1990s with the PocketPC devices. Even Palm (its only competition at the time) did not use a soft keyboard as much or as deeply as the old PocketPC/PPC2000/PPC2002/WM system did. This patent can be seen as protecting their original IP, something that Google and Apple blatantly ripped off now.
  • I don't believe design should be patented.Also, from what I can work out, the action described when reaching the end of a scrollable list (splining in devspeak) is the same as what's already in iOS? Surely that can't be patented, since it already exists?
  • "I don't believe design should be patented."You do know it is not a design, but a User Interface, right? If you cannot protect a UI, why do anything?
  • "You do know it is not a design, but a User Interface,"uhhhh.I'm all for protecting investment. However, patenting something /which already exists/ is just wrong (lists squidging when you reach the end).
  • This I'm happy about. After the ad agency modified their app store to look "metro", it won't be long before they attempt to mimic Microsoft's entire metro interface on whatever hardware they push to the market. I'm pleased at the news.
  • I agree Metro has some unique combinations, but I hope the patent only works for the combination, otherwise there would be ridicolous amounts of prior art. The entire quote from the patent sounds rather like describing iOS than WP7, if you don't look at the pictures, not to mention some things like parallax scrolling are in use for decades...
  • This is NOT a granted patent... This is a publication of a patent application filed.
  • Len.. the patent was awarded and as we mention in the article, it takes some time for the patent number to be assigned and the application transferred to the patent database.
  • There is a difference between getting a patent application "published" and "patented". Look it up and you will see, this application won't see a patent any time soon. It has not been awarded a patent as of August 18th, 2011.