Interface Protection and the First Circuit's Decision in Lotus V. Borland
Computer Law Reporter, Vol. 21, p. 434, 1995
7 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2009
Date Written: 1995
In Lotus v. Borland the First Circuit held that the menu command hierarchy of the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet program was a method of operation, and thus outside the protection of copyright law. The decision has been criticized and acclaimed by the opposing camps in the battle over copyright protection for software. International Business Machines Corporations’ Assistant General Counsel Anthony L. Clapes and Arizona State University Professor of Law Dennis S. Karjala ably represent the opposing points of view.
Mr. Clapes criticizes the decision as an abrupt and unsettling paradigm shift, which is ungrounded in copyright jurisprudence, driven by the desired result, and which may pose serious problems for the software industry in the long term. Professor Karjala concludes that the Court’s holding properly recognizes the statutory distinction between a protectable computer program and the unprotectable user interface which the program generates and that the decision also recognizes the proper relationship between patent and copyright protection, which reserves tot patent law the protection of functional aspects of a user interface.
Keywords: Lotus v. Borland, Copyright, Computer Programming
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