Nyemaster Goode, P.C.

Apple granted patent on Drop Down Menu – 11 years later

By Wendy Marsh

Last week, Apple Inc. was granted a patent on the design for its transparent drop down menu by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). While many would wonder what could possibly be unique about a drop-down menu, one has to consider the fact that Apple filed its patent application on this design almost 11 years ago in January of 2000, back when such designs may have very well been considered innovative.

According to USPTO records, the application was not even reviewed by the USPTO until two years after it was filed – an extraordinarily long time for a design patent application. The application was initially denied, leading to an appeal by Apple in January of 2004, after which it laid dormant again for almost another four years. In 2007 the USPTO finally removed the rejection that led to the appeal, but then issued some objections to the design images which took another three years to finally resolve.

Luckily for Apple, design patents remain active for 14 years following their issuance (rather than 20 years from the date of filing as is the case with utility patents). This is bad news for folks who might want to use transparent drop down menus in their web page design, who will now have to wait until 2024 to do so.

For the complete patent application to D629,412, click here.


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