China's first GUI patent dispute in litigation
In 2016, a GUI design patent dispute draw public attention to Beijing Qihoo Technology Co. Ltd. and its affiliate company Qizhi Software (Beijing) Co. Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “360 Company”), as well as Beijing Jiangmin New Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Jiangmin company”), and to GUI design patent.
In April 2016, 360 company started a lawsuit at Beijing IP Court alleging that the “Jiangmin optimization expert" software launched by Jiangmin company infringes 3 of 360 company’s design patents, and requested the court to order Jiangmin company stop infringement immediately, eliminate influences, and compensate for the economic losses and reasonable costs for a total of 15 million yuan. Jiangmin company filed petitions to Patent Reexamination Board for invalidation of the three patents at issue and requested Beijing IP Court to suspend the trial. But Beijing IP Court found the three patents at issue are solid enough based on the patent right evaluation report submitted by 360 company, and rejected Jiangmin company’s suspension request. An open hearing of the case was held on September 21, 2016, while the court has not yet made the ruling so far.
In recent years, many countries have GUI into the scope of design patent protection. This is the first domestic GUI design patent infringement case since China started to grant protection to GUI in 2014. Its typical significance is "being unprecedented". The determination of the relevant facts in this case and the application of law, including the determination of liability and the amount of compensation will be of great reference significance for similar cases in future. In addition, the GUI invalidation pending at the Patent Reexamination Board will also inspire the relevant practitioners.