Would an operating system idea be a utility patent or design patent? 2 Answers as of February 25, 2011

I have an idea for a personal computer operating system with an intuitive and friendly new interface and several unique features that appeal to non-technical users. I am beginning my research on patents for this idea, but I have run into an early confusion. The official wording for both patent types are rather vague, so I am unsure as to whether an operating system would be a utility patent or a design patent.

Also, if anyone has experience with patenting software or interface designs, they might know: what portions of an operating system would be most important to patent? Would I want to try and patent the overall user interface, specific features unique to the system, or something else?

Thank you for your time.

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DANIEL NESBITT
DANIEL NESBITT | Hasse & Nesbitt
Your operating system could be covered by a utility patent. Design patents might apply to the aesthetic aspects of screens shots or graphic representations of your OS. Your questions are fairly basic, so you should be working now with a patent attorney if you intend to pursue sound patent rights on this important invention. Feel free to contact me or another patent attorney or agent.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 2/25/2011
Malhotra Law Firm, PLLC
Malhotra Law Firm, PLLC | Deepak Malhotra
This would be one or more utility patents for the strongest protection. You can protect the interface arrangement, sequence of menus, or whatever it is that gives it the most value. Copyrights can be used in addition, and can be useful against pirates, but do not provide much protection against someone who reverse engineers the design. Copyrights should be registered before infringement occurs for maximum value.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 2/25/2011
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