When it comes to UIs, many different UI toolkits exist such as Qt, GTK, Motif, and UIKit. So I would be surprised if it turned out that common features of UIKit which appear on many platforms as well were patented by Apple. But I have to ask: Are these basic classes covered by patents:

  • UINavigationController = horizontal layout of UI screens
  • UIScrollView = scroll UI elements within a touch-sensitive zone
  • UITableView = vertical list of items with touch response

There are equivalents of these on many systmes, including Linux and Windows and Android.

  • Well, you could do a Google Patent search. I do believe there was a question here about an Apple design patent on a UI element but it might have been on mobile devices.
    – Eric S
    Oct 7, 2019 at 18:04
  • The question I mentioned its this: patents.stackexchange.com/questions/1940/…
    – Eric S
    Oct 7, 2019 at 19:56

2 Answers 2


Patent searching is a time consuming art. To get started, a google patent search finds the top several results (by relevance) the search string was (user interface) assignee:apple country:US after:priority:20000101 status:GRANT is gets about 9,000 hits

Graphical user interface and methods of use thereof in a multimedia player US US7166791B2 Jeffrey L. Robbin Apple Computer, Inc.

Combined menu-list control element in a graphical user interface WO EP US AU US6734882B1 Thomas W. Becker Apple Computer, Inc.

Method and apparatus for user customized shading of a graphical user interface WO EP US AU HK US7184056B2 Sarah Brody Apple Computer, Inc.

System and method of producing user interface information messages WO US AU US7024626B2 Steve Ko Apple Computer, Inc.

Graphical user interface(GUI), a synthesiser and a computer system including a … US US7222310B2 Chris Adam Apple Computer, Inc.

User interface for phone call routing among devices WO EP US CN US10178234B2 Patrick L. Coffman Apple, Inc.

Automatic, dynamic user interface configuration US US7620894B1 Jessica Kahn Apple Inc.

  • 1
    I find the Lens provides some additional search features. Also it actually finds patents that Google inexplicably misses.
    – Eric S
    Oct 7, 2019 at 21:16

The Supreme Court just agreed to hear the Google v. Oracle case that examines copyright protection for APIs. It is likely that the case will impact UIKit Classes as well. Sorry to be the bearer of uncertain news, but you need to watch out for copyright issues in addition to patent issues, at least until the Supreme Court hands down its decision.

  • I'm not sure it has any relevance to the question at all. API's are the programmatic syntax for calling code libraries whereas the question is about visual appearance. Secondly, the question is about patents, not copyright.
    – Eric S
    Nov 17, 2019 at 19:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .