Microsoft finally receives a design patent for Windows 8 Start Screen

Technology moves fast, but the United States government isn’t exactly as quick. Microsoft had originally filed a patent for the Windows 8 start screen in September 2011 (there was some initial confusion at the time on what it meant). The first release of Windows 8 was on October 25, 2012, so in essence, the patent was filled over a year before the operating system appeared on the market.

The design patent itself has just been approved with a stamped date of January 28 2014 – over two years after it was submitted for approval.

The original patent is four pages in length and is entitled as a “Display Screen with graphical user interface” – patent number US D698, 359 S. The inventor of the design is noted as Ethan Nelson Ray, a User Interface developer who had worked for Microsoft at the time, but now works as a Senior UX Designer at Google.

The claim of the design patent is for “a display screen with graphical user interface, as shown and described”. One of the images shows what appears to be a low resolution and black and white Start Screen. The tiles themselves are not shown and inside are replaced with white rectangles.

While, the image itself (shown above) may make the fundamentally important concept behind the patent seem anticlimactic, it means one thing – Microsoft now officially owns the design rights to Windows 8.

Design patents within the United States are one of the many types of patents available to those who are trying to protect their work.  Specifically, design patents are a method of protecting industrial design intellectual properties. A famous example of these patents at work could be seen in the now dated Apple vs. Samsung trials that argued over the Touch Wiz interface used by the Korean based company.

The government may be slow at getting design patents approved, but the designers at Microsoft can now sleep a bit more sound at night knowing that their beloved Windows 8 UI is safe and sound.

Source: USPTO; via WinBeta

Michael Archambault
  • Watch it Samsung! This may be the reason Microsoft hasn't applied pressure to the graphic plagiarism that has been taking place recently!
  • True
  • Great minds. This was my first thought.
  • Microsoft couldn't use the picture in picture patent?
  • @NIST... I'm not a professional by any means, so I wouldn't know. I'm sure Microsoft is better positioned to make a valid argument now that their patent is recognized by the powers that be.
  • Now sue the shit out of samsung new magazine ui..
  • They're backing off of it now that the slept with Google after CES.
  • I bet Scrooglle had to screw them real good to be able to stop them
  • And drugged them.
  • Meanwhile at patents office of us: a bunch of squares?
  • Ignorance
  • That "bunch of squares" has been acknowledged and almost plagiarised countless times, because anyone with sense sees a beautiful and simplistic answer to many a device's preblem
  • About damn time!  A lot of MS's competitors are starting to take a little too much "inspiration" from modern UI.
  • ⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆his⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆
  • ⬆⬆⬆that⬆⬆⬆
  • ⬆⬆⬆all of the above⬆⬆⬆
  • This comment is everything that is good and true!
  • ⬆⬆his⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆
  • So true, and regardless of other problems with the OS, the UI works! MS should play this side a lot more in their marketing. This is a big reason to "switch." Only to concentrate on the apps discussion is a bit silly, because a lot of functions the apps I have on my iPad are taken care of by WP OS.
  • So the Windows 8 design didn't even belong to Windows(Microsoft) until now? Well, fuck this day.
  • It would have been classified as "Patent Pending", but this gives them the hammer they need to sue a company, if necessary.
  • User Interface developer*
  • Keen eye - fixed, thanks!
  • Yeah. And why did thus dude have to
  • Sue Samsung and HTC. hahahaha. Does this cover the WP start screen too?
  • Great question. Was about to ask the same.
  • I'm supposing that microsoft dealt with that in the wp7 days.
  • Does this mean MS can now go after Samsung's "magazine UI" and HTC's "Blinkfeed". That HTC was such a blatant ripoff even the commercials made it sound like WP.
  • So true, Samsung doesn't own a piece of shit for it. everything is just burrowed or inspired(copied). After Apple, its Microsoft's turn to burn their arse..
  • Sure can do that now, and i would be happy to see that since Samsung decided to go to bed with google
  • If this had been Apple it would gotten approved before it was submitted...
  • Too true
  • Agree, Apple have even patented glass stairs in their stores and here Microsoft waited two years for their OS UI..
  • Not true... If only the public knew the whole process and what goes on behind the scenes of a patent application, is not as simple as you may think. Design patents maybe since all we are talking about is the look of something but utility patents are a whole other story...
  • Aslo if it had been Apple, they would even get patents for things that already existed and were comercialized... 
  • Icons are owned by android or iOS?, anyway they still suck. W8 is much more gorgeous, simple, systematic, sexy. Great news for W8 & Microsoft supporters. Bunch of squares is much better than bunch of assholes..
  • Coincindentally i just got a job offer as a Patent Examiner  with the USPTO office in VA. Still deciding whether to accept it or not.
  • Take it, you can become our inside eye with future patents on Tech stuff (jk)
  • lol....don't count on it. confidentiality of some sort won't allow for that. ....that's assuming i accept the job.
  • Are you Brain Dead, or over qualified ;-)
  • I'll leave the uninformed judgment to ya ;-). once u live in a state not the same as the job offer, wife who also has a job to lose, not enough time to search for another accommodation in the state where the offer is, no relocation assistance, double cost of living, then perhaps u will have a same perspective as me.
  • @aitt True story!
  • Lol you could've just replied to him
  • Good to see MS protecting their territory. It's already been said all over, but yeah, other companies were starting to intrude a little too closely for comfort.
  • Government confusion, no.....
  • Android & Apple IOS UI's look so antiquated that it's only a matter of time before they adopt the Metro UI or a variation of it.
  • You see it somewhat in their apps (Google)
  • A bit of perspective, in many fields the approval time can be over a decade. It only takes one thickheaded and/or incompetent Sr. Examiner - unfortunately a pretty high proportion of them fall into this group - and you can be stuck for years. Been there, doing it everyday. Of course the 'right' Corporate muscle can often short circuit the process. The US Government has been guilty of deliberately slowing Applications from non US Applicants while waiting for Americans to submit the same Patent, and then issuing the copycat US Patent immediately.
    And I don't think its accidental that Apple's ridiculous and overreaching claims that are plainly obvious in light of the Prior Art get granted, swiftly and routinely. The system is heavily biased towards Corporations over Individuals and certain Organizations. Recent "reforms" have all diminished the rights and access of Individuals and families improved the lot of large companies.
  • You are way off, I highly doubt the patent office is just waiting for "Americans" to apply for a patent even if they may have the same thing from a "foreigner"... Pro Se vs. Corporations , corporations have more money than a pro se so they are able and willing to continue prosecution, it isn't cheap to file and let alone get and maintain a patent, but hey we are in America and what would it be without conspiracy theories right...
  • Thus has been part of my work for 30 years, and my Fathers before that. I hold dozens of US Patents and know what I'm talking about.
    For an easy example to understand, look into the well documented case of the first test for the AIDS Virus. Invented in France and filed in the US where it sat unexamined for months. Then a US employee of the NIH filed an identical Application, which was examined immediately and Granted while the French Inventor's case was being ignored.
    That's just an easy one to research, there are many others. As far as the system being biased to Corporations "by accident", I seriously hope you are being naiive. The costs for small companies and Inventors could be readily reduced to level the playing field. Instead the lat round of Patent laws penalized individuals who have to take time to raise money to file and prosecute, giving Corporations the right to use or even patent their inventions because they have cash on hand.
    Obtaining a US Patent is a constitutional right of the Individual, not corporations. Like "money =speach", money = a patent is not in the US Constitution, but for some reason our CongressPersons seem to want it to be.
    I wonder why?
  • For the record, just because a patent takes forever to be approved might also mean that the original patent was written to broadly.
  • I hate patents
  • I Like Metro UI.
  • That's great! Just in time for Windows 9 to come around and bring back the normal start menu that the majority of the world knows and loves. That "metro UI" start menu is nice for phones and tablets but is downright ridiculous on traditional laptops and desktops.
  • Comment fail
  • Actually it posted just fine. Not sure how it failed. Is it hard to understand? Should I have used smaller words?
  • Im sure he means your comment its stupid, because well... its stupid and then "fail" 1. Windws 9 or next big release, it wont bring "start menu", because RUMORS say (I wont start how you shouldnt believe with everything you read that isnt officially confirmed), Microsoft call it "mini start SCREEN" does that sounds start menu to you clueless person?
    2. there is still no evidence they are bringing it... its just a RUMOR (which I mentioned in my point 1)
    3. Win8 works perfectly fine with mouse and keyboard, only stupid and pathetic and then ignorant people say it doesnt work... because you know... a small start menu that had a crappy folder structure that was better in XP and previous version of Windows, is not any better than Start screen, but again, I dont expect someone like you to use their brain to actually start using windows 8.
    4. you can replace start screen with whatever you want with million apps
    5. its not ridiculous, you are the ridiculous one with alot of crap you just said.
    6. please, next time learn how to use a computer, how to move your mouse, how to type in start screen, and you will see it works exactly the same as any previous version of windows.
    7. how is your comment not fail when you just sound another pathetic idiot on internet complaining about something you can replace and something that works practically the same as old win7? I dont know.
    8. oh and wait.... Im sure you dont have a Windows 8 tablet, because actually with mouse and keyboard using windows 8 is far better and more exciting and funnier, not with touch. so keep your ignorance there in front of your eyes, and keep thinking whatever you want, but again, your comment is full of ignorance and you should keep using win95 if technology changes affect you so much.
  • about time someone said that! Win8 is the best thing happened to PCs
  • There is too much "white" space on W8 in my option...  They need to add another couple rows.   Too much times on one page wouldn't be good, but I don't have that many apps and it seems like I have to scroll to to get to apps way too much.
  • Did you configure the Tiles option from settings to "Show More Tiles?". This is an option in 8.1, from the start screen, bring up charms, select settings then select tiles.
  • Never heard of that. Will try as soon as I get home! Thx
  • This option is not available on my window 8.1 pro ultrabook, I wonder why?
  • I don't have that option on my desktop.  I'm guessing because it detected my screen as higher res or a larger screen and it chose that by default?
  • Whoa! Did not know that, and here I thought I knew everything! Works on my Surface Pro 2, but too small to read easily. Should be great on the big screen...
  • Hmm
  • time to sue those copycats
  • How specific are design patents? For example: would this patient still hold if the tiles were arranged more vertically like HTC blink UI or Samsung's Magazine UI?
  • Now lets sue
  • Right. Let's start the patent wars again!!
  • As a graphic designer, I see The new Samsung look is more like flipboard than W8.
  • Well Microsoft, use your power and sue the maker of the Goophone smartwatch, since it uses the Modern UI style.