721.10 (B) Copyrightable Authorship in Screen Displays
When asserting a claim in screen displays, the claim should be limited to the new material that appears in the screen displays, the applicant should provide the name of the author who created that material, and the applicant should provide the name of the claimant who owns the copyright in that material. The Literary Division may accept a claim in “text” if the screen displays contain a sufficient amount of textual expression that is not a part of the code, or a claim in “artwork” and/or “photograph(s)” if the screen displays contain a sufficient amount of artwork or photos that are not generated by the computer program. When completing an online application, this information should be provided in the Author Created field, and if applicable, also in the New Material Included field. When completing a paper application on Form TX, this information should be provided in space 2, and if applicable, also in space 6 (B). For guidance on completing these portions of the application, see Chapter 600, Sections 618.4 and 621.8.
A registration for a computer program covers the copyrightable expression that appears in any screen that may be generated by the program, even if the applicant does not submit identifying material depicting the screen displays or merely submits a representative sampling of those displays. If the screen displays as a whole do not contain copyrightable authorship, the registration specialist may communicate with the applicant or may refuse registration. For example, if the claim is based solely on the layout or format of a screen or if the deposit copy(ies) consist solely of blank forms, de minimis menu screens, or other elements that are purely functional, registration will be refused. See Registration Decision: Registration and Deposit of Computer Screen Displays, 53 Fed. Reg. 21,817, 21,819 (August, 1987).