It seems that the competition that has been brewing between Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) has never really died down from the late 1970s, even as both companies have had ups and downs in the stock market and in the consumer products market as well. Apple Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., was a copyright infringement lawsuit in which Apple Computer sought to prevent Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard from using visual graphical user interface (GUI) elements that were similar to those in Apple's Lisa and Macintosh operating systems. Some critics claimed that Apple was really attempting to gain all intellectual property rights over the desktop metaphor for computer interfaces, and perhaps all GUIs, on personal computers. Apple lost all claims in the lawsuit, except that the court ruled that the trash can icon and file folder icons from Hewlett-Packard's now-forgotten NewWave windows application were infringing. The lawsuit was filed in 1988 and lasted four years; the decision was affirmed on appeal in 1994,  and the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court by Apple was denied. The lawsuit was decided in Microsoft's favor on August 24, 1993. Products:
Lisa and Macintosh are Apple computers. Each has a graphical user interface ("GUI") which Apple Computer, Inc. registered for copyright as an audiovisual work. Both GUIs were developed as a user-friendly way for ordinary mortals to communicate with the Apple computer; the Lisa Desktop and the Macintosh Finder1 are based on a desktop metaphor with windows, icons and pull-down menus which can be manipulated on the screen with a hand-held device called a mouse. When Microsoft Corporation released Windows 1.0, having a similar GUI, Apple complained. As a result, the two agreed to a license giving Microsoft the right to use and sublicense derivative works generated by Windows 1.0 in present and future products. Release of Windows 2.03 & 3.0
Microsoft released Windows 2.03 and later, Windows 3.0; its licensee, Hewlett-Packard Company (HP), introduced NewWave 1.0 and later, NewWave 3.0, which run in conjunction with Windows to make IBM-compatible computers easier to use. Apple believed that these versions exceed the license, make Windows more "Mac-like," and infringe its copyright. This action followed. Legal Case:
In a series of published rulings,2 the district court construed the agreement to license visual displays in the Windows 1.0 interface, not the interface itself; determined that all visual displays in Windows 2.03 and 3.0 were in Windows 1.0 except for the use of overlapping windows3 and some changes in the appearance and manipulation of icons; dissected the Macintosh, Windows and NewWave interfaces based on a list of similarities submitted by Apple to decide which are protectable; and applied the limiting doctrines of originality, functionality, standardization, scenes a faire and merger to find no copying of protectable elements in Windows 2.03 or 3.0, and to limit the scope of copyright protection to a handful of individual elements in NewWave.4 The court then held that those elements in NewWave would be compared with their equivalent Apple elements for substantial similarity, and that the NewWave and Windows 2.03 and 3.0 works as a whole would be compared with Apple's works for virtual identity. When Apple declined to oppose motions for summary judgment of noninfringement for lack of virtual identity, however, judgments in favor of Microsoft and HP were entered. Apple asked to reverse because of two fundamental errors in the district court's reasoning. First, Apple argues that the court should not have allowed the license for Windows 1.0 to serve as a partial defense. Second, Apple contends that the court went astray by dissecting Apple's works so as to eliminate unprotectable and licensed elements from comparison with Windows 2.03, 3.0 and NewWave as a whole, incorrectly leading it to adopt a standard of virtual identity instead of...