Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) may be understood to include both textual and graphical elements of users’ screen displays. This chapter examines three categories of GUI elements: (1) the desktop – referring to the entire display area; (2) static components – the items appearing on the display area, such as pointers, icons and menus; and (3) animated effects or motion features, such as the gene effect on the Mac operating system. This chapter will also address the impact made by GUIs on the user in a broader sense, referring to the ‘look and feel’ of software which is generated by these three GUI categories. The analysis is conducted under four distinct branches of intellectual property law: copyright, patents, design law and trade dress protection (to the extent that such protection is available under trade mark law). When examining the protectability of GUIs under EU law, it should be borne in mind that often GUIs are both aesthetic and functional. As we shall see, this duality poses specific challenges to the intellectual property law framework.
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