Apple Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corporation Patent Infringement
Apple Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corporation patent infringement case was presented in the United States Court in 1994. In this lawsuit, Apple Computer Inc. sought to deter Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft from using GUI (visual graphical user interface) elements that are similar to those of its Macintosh operating systems and Lisa.
Apple was to license some parts of the GUI to Microsoft so that it can use them in Windows 1.0. However, Microsoft made some changes in the Windows 2.0 which included overlapping features that were found in Macintosh graphical user interface. This prompted Apple to file a suit. When Microsoft released its Windows 3.0, Apple added claims to the lawsuit.
According to Apple, Macintosh operation system had its feel and looks protected by the copyright laws. The company further claimed that elements of this interface including the windows in the screen, resize feature of the windows, rectangular windows appearance, title bars and overlap were not as important as all the elements put together.
Oral arguments ensued in the court prompting it to insist on analysis of different graphical user element of the Apple that it claimed had been infringed. In its list, Apple claimed that 189 elements had been infringed. Out of these, court decided that only 179 were licensed to the Microsoft Windows 1.0. The court noted that the other 10 elements could not be copyrighted and that the elements were not original or that they were just the only way via which a particular idea could possibly be expressed.
In its ruling, the court observed that Apple could not be granted patent-like protection for graphical user interface idea or desktop metaphor idea under the copyright law. Apple was also sued by Xerox in as the Apple Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corporation patent infringement lawsuit continued. According to Xerox, the Apple’s Mac’s graphical user interface was heavily based on that of Xerox.
However, claims by Xerox were dismissed by the district court without address if the Apple graphical user interface infringed that of Xerox. In the Apple Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corporation patent infringement case, Apple lost all the claims except the ruling that folder icons and trash-can icon from the NewWave Windows app of Hewlett-Packard were infringing.
Apple Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corporation patent infringement case started in 1988 and it continued for four years with a decision being affirmed in 1994. Apple was denied an appeal in the U.S Supreme Court.
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