A few years ago there were some news headlines about that Microsoft is getting royalty fee from Android phones manufactures, because of some Android user interface basic concepts, that were patented by Microsoft. Unfortunately, none of them explain exactly which specific UI elements or concepts was the reason:

Why Microsoft Makes $5 to $15 From Every Android Device Sold

Currently, I am developing my own UI library for Windows. My library provides mechanisms for Windows-developers to create beautiful GUI programs, and I want to sell it in the future. The main advantage of my UI library is that it does not use any of the standard Windows controls, because I am rewriting it on my own.

Although most of UI controls are initially "clean" and need to be set up, customized, some controls already have predefined behavior and the way it displayed, for example - text input field. When developer creates it, it already has an ability to select text via mouse, move caret using keyboard.

The fact that is worrying me, is that logic, that experience exists in existing controls. Stuff like caret, selecting text using a mouse, scrollbars, etc. But in the other hand I am going to distribute it only for Windows.

Can those be patented by Microsoft or someone else? Can Microsoft suing me, if I will sell GUI library that imitating their patented conceptions only for Windows platform?


I am asking specifically about text selection using mouse.

  • "Can the owner go to court, saying I stole his ideas[...]?" Sure, multiple patents have been granted, for example, on scroll bars. Is it likely that they sue you? Depends on how successful your library is. Is it likely that they win? Depends on the details (how does your UI control look exactly, what patents are claimed to be infringed, how non-obvious are those patents actually, etc.). Will you be able to financially survive a legal battle against one of the giants, even if you win in the end? Only you can answer that...
    – Heinzi
    Aug 30, 2022 at 8:36
  • @Heinzi, my GUI library provides developer an ability to create their own controls or other ui elements from the basic kit, like css. I rather asking about experience or functionality - for example selecting text using mouse - can it be patented? I rewrite this functionality by myself it experiences almost the same, but for example it does not select a single word in text by double clicking it as existing input fields do Aug 30, 2022 at 8:56
  • Yes, there are also patents on selecting text with a mouse (just search Google for patent text selection mouse).
    – Heinzi
    Aug 30, 2022 at 10:22
  • The main advantage of my UI library is that it does not use any of the standard Windows controls, because I am rewriting it on my own. This is actually a disadvantage. For instance, this is likely to prevent people from using screen readers with your software, since they won't know about it (unless you put in extra work to wire that up). Aug 30, 2022 at 15:54
  • @Clockwork-Muse, perhaps You didn't understand what did I mean. My gui library dedicated to Windows developers, so they can use it build their Windows program with pretty interfaces. In particularly, my library gives an ability to create the text input field, that behaves almost the same the field You used to write Your comment. The key moment is that I rewrite all of logics on my own Aug 30, 2022 at 16:02

2 Answers 2


Trivial is hard to judge after the fact due to hindsight bias. Once you know the answer to a riddle it seems obvious but you couldn’t figure it out without already knowing it.

The criteria for get a patent in the US does not include the word or concept “trivial”. It does include non-obviousness. To reduce hindsight bias an examiner needs to follow a process of identifying all sub- components of an invention in the prior art and then making a good argument as to how someone of ordinary skill in the field would be motivated to put them together.

Also there is no measure of improvement over past technology required for a patent. A trivial improvement in cost or performance is fine. Actually no objective improvement is required at all. An existing solution might work as well or better than your invention. That means probably no one will buy it but if it is novel and not obvious one can get a patent.

  • Thanks for feedback, but I rather asked not about patenting the solution I write, but just about ability to sell it legally, so non of the companies could suing me Aug 30, 2022 at 7:59
  • Obviously if X holds a patent and licenses it for a million dollar, and you have a different patent that allows me to achieve my goals in a different way, and you license it for half the amount, I’d be very interested.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 30, 2022 at 10:15
  • @gnasher729 I don’t have a patent and I am not going to have it Aug 30, 2022 at 10:17
  • Stdug: You need to understand both sides. Like you need to know how cars work to understand how to cross a road safely as a pedestrian. And note that the universe doesn’t revolve around you.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 30, 2022 at 10:21
  • @gnasher729, okay, I just pointed, that I am not going to patent something Aug 30, 2022 at 11:11

A concept that is "trivial" is almost always one that would be obvious to persons trained in the relevant art (in this case the relevant kind of coding) and thus would not be patentable. See 35 U.S.C. § 103(a) which states:

A patent for a claimed invention may not be obtained, notwithstanding that the claimed invention is not identically disclosed as set forth in section 102, if the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious before the effective filing date of the claimed invention to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains. Patentability shall not be negated by the manner in which the invention was made.

  • The problem is that the things that are trivial are trivial only for thirty years, from the time it was invented. Before, that trivial things just didn't exist Aug 30, 2022 at 8:04
  • Of course trivial things existed. Many were both trivial and obvious, therefore widely used and unpatrntable. Others were trivial, not obvious, but openly used by someone and therefore unpatentable.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 30, 2022 at 10:18

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