Believe it or not, Microsoft didn’t quite have the patent for the Windows 8 Start Screen, even though everyone imagines tiles as being their thing. Microsoft originally filed a patent for Windows 8 start screen in September 2011, but things didn’t become clear till now.
The design patent has just been approved with a stamped date of January 28th 2014. This is more than 2 years later than the approval submission, so it’s kind of odd. I imagine that if some other company had the trademark and wanted to fight for it, they would have done it. The original patent is 4 pages in length and it’s called a “Display Screen with graphical user interface”, patent number US D698, 359 S.
The inventor of the design is Ethan Nelson Ray, a user interface developer who had worked for Microsoft back in the days. He now works as a Senior UX designer at Google, ironically. The image above shows a low resolution black and white Start Screen, the initial design sketch. The bad news is that the government in USA is a bit slow at getting design patents approved, but at least they deliver in the end.