IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
October Term, 1994
On Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to
the United States Court of Appeals
for the First Circuit
Gary L. Reback
(Counsel of Record)
Isabella E. Fu
Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati Professional Corporation
650 Page Mill Road
Palo Alto, California 94304
Telephone: (415) 493-9300
Peter E. Gelhaar
Katherine L. Parks
Donnelly, Conroy & Gelhaar
One Post Office Square
Boston, Massachusetts 02109
Telephone: (617) 542-7400
Attorneys for Respondent
Did the First Circuit correctly hold that commands used to
operate a computer spreadsheet program are uncopyrightable under 17 U.S.C. sect. 102(b)?
RULE 29.1 STATEMENT
Respondent Borland International, Inc. has no parent corporation or subsidiaries that are not wholly owned, except for certain foreign subsidiaries in which a minimal amount of shares (fewer than 1%), which are not publicly traded, are held by foreign nationals in accordance with local law.
RULE 29.1 STATEMENT . . . . . . . . . . ii
TABLE OF AUTHORITIES. . . . . . . . . . v
INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY. . . . . . . . 1
STATEMENT OF THE CASE . . . . . . . . . 8
Ashton-Tate Corp. v. Ross, 728 F. Supp. 597 (N.D. Cal. 1989) . . . . . 6, 21, 22, 25
Ashton-Tate Corp. v. Ross, 916 F.2d 516 (9th Cir. 1990) . . . . . 6, 21, 22
Autoskill, Inc. v. National Educ. Support Sys., Inc., 994 F.2d 1476 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 114 U.S. 307 (1993) . . . . 22, 23
Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99 (1879) . . . . . passim
Brown Bag Software v. Symantec Corp., 960 F.2d 1465 (9th Cir.), cert. denied sub. nom. BB Asset Mgmt. Inc. v. Symantec Corp., 113 S.Ct. 198 (1992) . . . . . 21
Computer Assoc. Int'l, Inc. v. Altai, Inc., 982 F.2d 693 (2d Cir. 1992). . passim
Digital Comm. Assoc., Inc. v. Softklone Distrib. Corp., 659 F. Supp. 449 (N.D. Ga. 1987) . . . . . 23
Engineering Dynamics, Inc. v. Structural Software, Inc., 26 F.3d 1335 (5th Cir. 1994) . . . . . 7, 24
Engineering Dynamics, Inc. v. Structural Software, Inc., 46 F.3d 408 (5th Cir. 1995) . . . . . 7, 24
Gates Rubber Co. v. Bando Chem. Indus., Ltd., 9 F.3d 823 (10th Cir. 1993) . . . . . 6, 16, 23
Gates Rubber Co. v. Bando Chem. Indus., Ltd., No. 92-S-136 (D. Colo. filed June 12, 1995) . . . . . 6, 23
Johnson Controls, Inc. v. Phoenix Control Sys., Inc., 886 F.2d 1173 (9th Cir. 1989) . . . . . . 21
Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., 49 F.3d 807 (1st Cir. 1995). . . . . . passim
Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., 788 F. Supp. 78 (D. Mass. 1992) . . . . . passim
Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., 799 F. Supp. 203 (D. Mass. 1992) . . . . . passim
Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., 831 F. Supp. 202 (D. Mass. 1993) . . . . . 2, 10
Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., 831 F. Supp. 223 (D. Mass. 1993) . . . . . 2, 10
Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Paperback Software Int'l, 740 F. Supp. 37 (D. Mass. 1990) . . . . . passim
Manufacturers Technologies, Inc. v. CAMS, Inc., 706 F. Supp. 984 (D. Conn. 1989) . . . . . 24
Mitek Holdings, Inc. v. Arce Eng'g Co., 864 F. Supp. 1568 (S.D. Fla. 1994) . . . . . 24
Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417 (1984) . . . . . . 29
Whelan Assoc., Inc. v. Jaslow Dental Laboratory, Inc., 797 F.2d 1222 (3d Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 1031 (1987) . . . . . 14, 16, 25
60 Fed. Reg. 28,778 (proposed June 2, 1995) . . . . . 28
H.R. Rep. No. 1476, 94th Cong., 2d Sess. 5455 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5659 . . . . . 15
17 U.S.C. sect. 101 . . . . . . . . 14
17 U.S.C. sect. 102(b) . . . . . passim
28 U.S.C. sect. 1292(a) . . . . . . 12
Paul Goldstein, Copyright (1989) . . . . . 15, 26
Paul Goldstein, Infringement of Copyright in Computer Programs, 47 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 1119 (1986) . . . . . 26
Karen S. Kovach, Comment, Computer Software Design; User Interface--Idea or Expression? 60 U. Cin. L. Rev. 161 (1991) . . . . . . . . 3
Kenneth A. Liebman, et al., Back To Basics: A Critique Of The Emerging Judicial Analysis Of The Outer Limits Of Computer Program Expression, 2 Computer Law., Dec. 1985, at 1 . . . . . 15
Steven W. Lundberg et al., Identifying Uncopyrightable Computer Implemented Processes and Systems, 9 Computer Law., Apr. 1992, at 7 . . . . . 3
David Nimmer & Melville B. Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright (1994) . . . 14
Pamela Samuelson, Computer Programs, User Interfaces, and Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act of 1976: A Critique of Lotus v. Paperback, 55 Law & Contemp. Probs., Spring 1992, at 311 . . . . . 3
Timothy S. Teter, Note, Merger and the Machines: An Analysis of the Pro-Compatibility Trend in Computer Software Copyright Cases, 45 Stan. L. Rev. 1061 (1993) . . . . . 3
U.S. Department of Commerce, Press Release No. 95-21, Software Patent Guidelines Released Today, 6/1/95 . . . . . 28
Julian Velasco, The Copyrightability of Nonliteral Elements of Computer Programs, 94 Columbia L.Rev. 242 (1994) . . . . . . . 3
Lotus -- Petitioner Lotus Development Corporation
Petition or Pet.-- Lotus' Petition for a Writ of Certiorari filed in this Court
Pet. App. -- Appendix to Lotus' Petition filed in this Court
1st Cir. App. -- Joint Appendix of Record filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (the court below)
Borland S.J. Brief--Borland's Memorandum in Support of Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 141) in the district court
Ex. __ -- Exhibit __ from Exhibits in Support of Borland's Cross-Motion for Sum- mary Judgment (Dkt. No. 142) in the district court
RE -- Excerpts of Record attached to Borland's opening brief in the court below (filed Dec. 14, 1993)
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
October Term, 1994
Lotus Development Corporation,
Borland International, Inc.,
On Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
BRIEF IN OPPOSITION
TO PETITION FOR CERTIORARI
The Court of Appeals in this case held that the commands used to operate a computer spreadsheet program--common commands such as "COPY," "MOVE," or "PRINT" displayed to the user on a computer screen--are uncopyrightable under sect. 102(b) of the Copyright Act. The court's opinion relied on the express language of the statute that forbids copyright protection for "methods of operation" and "systems." The court also relied on this Court's seminal decision in the area, Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99 (1879), which mandates that claims for the protection of methods of operation and systems be governed by the patent law rather than the copyright law.
The First Circuit's opinion carefully reviewed the leading authority from the other circuits, principally the Second Circuit's decision in Computer Assoc. Int'l, Inc. v. Altai, Inc., 982 F.2d 693 (2d Cir. 1992), that sets forth a methodology for evaluating claims of copyright infringement in the text (i.e., "code") and "structure" of computer programs. Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., 49 F.3d 807, 814 (1st Cir. 1995), Pet. App. at 13a- 15a. The First Circuit readily agreed that the methodology used in Altai and similar cases provides "a useful framework" for evaluating infringement claims in "code" and "code structure" but was simply inapposite to the issue here--the copyrightability of command words, or "menus," used to operate the program. 49 F.3d at 815, Pet. App. at 14a. The First Circuit viewed this issue as easily resolvable by reference to the statute and Supreme Court authority.
Judge Boudin filed a separate opinion in which he concurred in the majority's reasoning as well as its conclusion. 49 F.3d at 821, Pet. App. at 27a-28a. Judge Boudin went on to explain that extending copyright protection to the command words at issue by judicial fiat, as the district court had done, is at variance with the intent of Congress and is both inefficient and anticompetitive from an economic perspective. Lotus should look to the patent law, rather than copyright, to protect its method of operation.
The First Circuit decision reversed a series of opinions in this case from a single judge in the District of Massachusetts.1 From the beginning, the district court eschewed a narrow focus on what was actually at issue in this case--the method by which the user tells the computer program what to do. Instead, the district court viewed the case as the opportunity to involve itself in the developing case law regarding the protection of computer program "code" and "structure." Although those issues are not present in this case, the district court sought to inject this case into the debate about those issues, by creating its own novel methodology to determine the copyrightability of all aspects of computer technology.
The Lotus petition describes the district court opinions variously as "virtually canonical," as having "a prominent role" and as a "touchstone" in computer copyright law. Petition at 2, 15, 22. Exactly the opposite is true. The district court decisions in this case and in the predecessor Paperback case provoked a firestorm of controversy. As the record below reflects, the district court opinions were widely criticized in the academic community,2 the legal press,3 the national financial press,4 and the computer industry press5 for extending copyright protection to put large sectors of the software industry off limits to competition, thereby producing a radical departure from the leading authority of other circuits. Although Lotus claims that the Second Circuit's Altai decision cites the district court opinions at issue here "with approval," Pet. at 16, in fact the Second Circuit specifically cited and pointedly rejected the district court's "incentive-based arguments in favor of broad copyright protection" as having a "corrosive effect on certain fundamental tenets of copyright doctrine." 982 F.2d at 712. Astonishingly, the Lotus petition fails to disclose the Second Circuit's pointed criticism of the district court's position.
In the proceedings below, a myriad of industry associations (representing both large and small companies), consumer groups, distinguished academics, eminent computer scientists, and even the Register of Copyrights of the United States all filed amicus briefs criticizing the district court and urging reversal of its opinions.6 Lotus' position, by contrast, has attracted little support in the software industry. Its amici have consisted of a few large companies who favor the extension of copyright law to inhibit competition from the hundreds of other operating system and application software companies.
Lotus' argument that the First Circuit decision created a conflict in the circuits is pure fabrication. Lotus argues that there is a consensus in the circuits regarding the application of the "abstractions" test to computer programs, that the district court's opinions in this case are a part of that consensus, and that the First Circuit's decision departs from that body of law. But, in fact, the discussion in the circuit courts regarding the "abstractions" test is directed to different subject matter--i.e., the program code and structure--rather than the menus used to operate the program. That is the principal failing in Lotus' argument and the reason Lotus lost this case. As the First Circuit made plain, this case is not about a computer program; it is about the menu words that are used as buttons and switches to operate the program. The First Circuit decision does not stand for the proposition that it is error to apply the "abstractions" test to computer programs. Rather, the First Circuit has held that it is error to apply the "abstractions" test to something (in this case menus) that is not copyrightable in the first place.
Nor did the First Circuit reject the "idea/expression" dichotomy in applying sect. 102(b) as Lotus asserts. Pet. at 23. Rather, referring to the express language of the statute, the First Circuit recognized that sect. 102(b) makes "methods of operation" and "systems" as well as "ideas" uncopyrightable. The First Circuit applied the dichotomy in the statute and case law, finding that the commands are on the uncopyrightable side of the line (which Lotus calls the "distinction") between "ideas," "methods of operation," and "systems," on the one hand, which are uncopyrightable, and "expression" and "description," on the other hand, which are copyrightable.7
Contrary to Lotus' position, no circuit has held that the
menu commands that operate the program are copyrightable on any
theory, "idea/expression" dichotomy, "abstractions" or otherwise.
In fact, it was the district court in this case that departed from
existing authority when it declined to follow the Ninth Circuit's
holding that the menu command hierarchy of a spreadsheet is
uncopyrightable under 17 U.S.C. sect. 102(b). In declining to
follow the Ninth Circuit's decision, Ashton-Tate Corp. v. Ross,
916 F.2d 516, 521-22 (9th Cir. 1990), the district court stated:
In the interest of completeness and candor, I note as well that courts in one circuit are not bound by the decisions of other circuits. Borland II, 799 F. Supp. at 220, Pet. App. at 136a. Apparently lacking the "completeness and candor" of the district court, the Lotus petition does not even mention the Ashton-Tate decision.
The only other circuit (the Tenth Circuit) to have directly considered the copyrightability of menu commands vacated a district court decision holding that menu commands are copyrightable and provided instructions for further consideration of the issue. Gates Rubber Co. v. Bando Chem. Indus., Ltd., 9 F.3d 823, 843-44 (10th Cir. 1993). On remand, the district court held that the menu commands were uncopyrightable, citing the First Circuit's Lotus decision approvingly. Gates Rubber Co. v. Bando Chem. Indus., Ltd., No. 92-S-136 (D. Colo. filed June 12, 1995). Lotus' assertion that "[i]t is now legal to copy menus in the First Circuit but not in the Fifth, Ninth or Tenth," Pet. at 28, is simply preposterous.
Similarly, the Lotus petition claims that a particular Fifth Circuit decision "relied heavily" on the district court's analysis. Pet. at 23, citing Engineering Dynamics, Inc. v. Structural Software, Inc., 26 F.3d 1335, 1348-49 (5th Cir. 1994). Incredibly, the Lotus petition fails to point out that following publication of its initial opinion, the Fifth Circuit was deluged by requests for rehearing from software and semiconductor companies, computer scientists and user groups, and subsequently issued a supplemental opinion. The Fifth Circuit limited its first decision to the facts of that case and specifically disclaimed reliance on the rationale that underlies the district court's opinions at issue here. Engineering Dynamics, Inc. v. Structural Software, Inc., 46 F.3d 408, 409 (5th Cir. 1995). It is unfathomable that Lotus could assert that neither the Second Circuit nor the Fifth, Ninth and Tenth Circuits "has suggested that the central tenets of [the district court's] analysis have been anything but correct." Pet. at 22.
In short, there is simply no conflict among the circuits on the protection of menu commands and similar methods used to operate computer programs. Furthermore, given the subject matter that is really at issue in this case and the narrow basis of the First Circuit's opinion, virtually any comment by this Court on the copyrightability of code or program structure in a review of this case would be dicta. There are, on the other hand, a variety of cases currently proceeding through the lower courts that directly address those issues (discussed in Section IC below).
There is good reason why the district court's opinions in this case generated such widespread attention and controversy. In the usual software copyright case, the defendant is alleged to have copied either the text ("code") or structure of the plaintiff's computer program, or the way the plaintiff's program looks on the computer screen when it is executing. No such copying occurred here. Lotus did not even allege any copying of its code or code structure, and even the district court found that the programs looked different on the computer screen. Borland II, 799 F. Supp. at 220, Pet. App. at 137a.
Users operate the program at issue here through a series of commands--common English words--arranged in hierarchies called "menus." 49 F.3d at 809, Pet. App. at 4a. As the First Circuit opinion explains, the precise facts of this case are critical to its disposition. The menu commands of the product at issue do not function as labels or explanations for any buttons or switches used to operate the program. Rather, the menu commands themselves are used to operate the program in much the same way that the buttons on a video cassette recorder (VCR) operate that machine. While such utilitarian methods of operation are perhaps patentable under the patent laws, this is not a patent case since Lotus obtained no patent on this or any other relevant aspect of Lotus 1-2-3.
As the First Circuit found, "the entire Lotus menu command hierarchy is essential to operating" the program. 49 F.3d at 815-16, Pet. App. at 15a-22a. If a user types "COPY" or "C," the program copies. Typing "PRINT" or "P" causes the computer to print. Typing more complex sequences of commands in the hierarchy executes other operations of the spreadsheet. There is other text attendant to a computer program--not copied by Borland--that communicates with the user or that provides information to the user. Such text includes books about the program, manuals, on-screen "help" text, and other textual material that does not operate the computer. In contrast, the words of the Lotus menu command hierarchy are literally the method of operating the spreadsheet program. These limiting facts are crucial to the disposition of this petition.
A. Factual Background
1. The Lotus Product
The development of the Lotus menu command hierarchy is well chronicled in the Lotus petition. According to the affidavit submitted with the petition8 the commands were organized "hierarchically," and the manner depicted in a "menu tree," so that "the selection of one command option from the first level menu could lead in turn to another array of command options on a second level menu (or `submenu') and so on." Kapor Aff. at paras. 44-45, Pet. App. at 287a. The Lotus developer drew a firm line between the menu choices in the hierarchy (the "command options") and the explanation of those command options. According to the affidavit, for example, the "long prompts" (or "screen help" text) are intended to provide "information to the user" and "explanations," while the menu commands are directed toward "performing a particular task." Kapor Aff. at paras. 44, 101, Pet. App. at 287a, 296a.
As set forth in great detail in the lower court record, the Lotus spreadsheet was a great success, but that success had little to do with the menu command hierarchy. Rather, when the IBM PC was introduced in August 1981, the Lotus developers, according to the district court, "exploited this opportunity" by designing the technical aspects of their spreadsheet product to take advantage of the technological advances of the IBM PC over pre- existing computers. Paperback, 740 F. Supp. at 65-66, Pet. App. at 231a.
The menu command hierarchy was simply not a qualitatively significant part of the product at the time of its introduction, either from Lotus' viewpoint or the viewpoint of users.9 The exact words and order of the Lotus menu command hierarchy were not important to the product's initial success, but they became vitally important to the success of later versions of Lotus' product and spreadsheets offered by Lotus' competitors for two reasons. First, as Judge Boudin explains (and the record below demonstrates in detail), users invested their own time, money and energy in learning the Lotus commands as keystroke combinations to operate the spreadsheet, just as users operate a typewriter to produce readable text by touch typing on the standard QWERTY keyboard. 49 F.3d at 819-21, Pet. App. at 24a-26a. Second, as both the majority opinion and Judge Boudin explain,10 users automate those steps by creating "macros," computer programs written by users themselves.
Lotus' own documents and the record below demonstrate that while Lotus' product initially became a success because it was technologically superior to its early competition, it later maintained its share because, as Judge Boudin noted, the user's investment in learning the method of operation of the Lotus product and the creation of macros "locked in" those users who first selected Lotus over its inferior early competition.11 Therefore, unless a new entrant with a superior product in the spreadsheet market could compete for the business of the vast majority of computer users who initially chose Lotus, competition would be limited solely to new spreadsheet users, a minor portion of the market. In short, there would be little, if any, business for which to compete.
2. The Borland Product
The Lotus petition attempts to dismiss Borland's product as a "clone" or imitator, but the record below demonstrates otherwise. The Borland product was first introduced in 1989 and won every major award for spreadsheet excellence given in the software industry. The Borland product invariably ranked higher than the Lotus product in head-to-head reviews and user comparisons, including those conducted by Lotus.12
Not only was the Borland product superior from technological and performance perspectives, but it also employed a new screen display that was different in every respect (save the command words) from the Lotus products at issue in this case. See Borland S.J. Brief (Dkt. No. 141) at 116-34. The Borland product had its own menu command hierarchy designed specifically to take advantage of its superior technological features and a different screen display. But the Borland product also provided, as an alternative, an enhanced version of the Lotus menu command hierarchy so that users who were locked into the earlier menus could operate the new product without relearning their spreadsheet skill set or rewriting their macros.13
B. Proceedings in the District Court
Throughout the proceedings below, the district court resisted every attempt Borland made to secure prompt appellate review of the district court's controversial extension of copyright law. The district court's earlier Paperback decision had not been appealed because Lotus settled the case following the district court's ruling and the defendant went out of business.
The district court issued its first opinion in this case on March 20, 1992, indicating that it intended to continue to employ its widely criticized methodology from the Paperback case. Borland I, 788 F. Supp. at 89-90, Pet. App. at 163a. On July 31, 1992, the district court published its Borland II decision and an accompanying procedural order holding that "[t]he menu commands and menu hierarchy of Lotus 1-2-3 have expressive aspects and are copyrightable." Order Regulating Jury Trial, finalized Sept. 30, 1992 (Dkt. No. 232), at 18. However, the district court said that it could not determine the "precise scope of Borland's infringement" without further trial proceedings, Borland II, 799 F. Supp. at 221, Pet. App. at 138a, and set a trial to begin on November 2, 1992.
Immediately following the district court's Borland II decision, Borland pulled the Lotus menus from its products. On three separate occasions, Borland moved to certify for interlocutory appeal the question of the menu command hierarchy's copyrightability. However, the district court denied all three of Borland's motions, greatly extending the proceedings.14 Ultimately, Borland argued in favor of enjoining its own product so that appellate review would be available pursuant to the injunction statute, 28 U.S.C. sect. 1292(a). On August 19, 1993, the district court entered a permanent injunction against the continued sale of Borland's product and an appeal was promptly taken to the First Circuit.
The district court refused to stay either damages discovery or a damages trial pending the First Circuit's decision on liability. As a result, the damages phase of the case, which was eventually terminated by the First Circuit's reversal, cost Borland millions of dollars in legal and expert fees. Although the district court was eventually reversed, the series of district court opinions, followed by the entry of a permanent injunction, had a devastating effect on Borland. For example, as the record below reflects, Borland's stock, which traded at 86- in January, 1992, prior to the first of the district court's opinions in the case, fell to 12- in September 1993, following entry of the injunction. Borland was required of financial necessity to sell its spreadsheet products to another company and is no longer a competitor of Lotus, which is now owned by International Business Machines Corp. (IBM). Any further appellate proceedings, even if successful from Borland's legal viewpoint, can be exploited by IBM to further damage Borland competitively.
REASONS FOR DENYING THE PETITION
I. THE CIRCUITS ARE IN AGREEMENT THAT WORDS USED AS BUTTONS TO OPERATE A PROGRAM, UNLIKE THE PROGRAM ITSELF, ARE UNCOPYRIGHTABLE.
A. The District Court Erroneously Applied the "Abstractions" Test to Uncopyrightable Subject Matter.
The Lotus petition attempts to inject this case into the ongoing debate in the case law involving the extent to which the "structure" of a computer program should be protected by copyright. But extending copyright protection to menus and similar methods of operation has far greater legal and economic consequences than extending copyright to the structure of a computer program. The legal argument that at least some aspects of a program's structure might be copyrightable is a familiar one. A computer program, as defined in 17 U.S.C. sect. 101 (a "set of instructions" used "to bring about a certain result"), is a "literary work." The literal elements of the program, the source code and object code, are copyrightable in the same way that the literal text of a play would be.
Within the genre of artistic literary works like plays, courts have created the "paraphrasing" doctrine, see Pet. at 10, also known as the concept of "comprehensive non-literal similarity," as a basis for copyright infringement. See David Nimmer & Melville B. Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright, sect. 13.03[A] at 13-29 (1994). If, for example, someone made an unauthorized translation into French of a play originally written in English, the authors would have a claim for copyright infringement, notwithstanding the fact that the original work (in English) and the unauthorized "copy" (in French) do not share any common literal expression. They are not substantially similar in terms of literal expression, but they are similar with respect to the "structure" of the play, each of its acts, each of its scenes, and, for that matter, the breakdown of the dialogue into sentences.
Because Congress decided to apply copyright protection to the code of a computer program (the "set of instructions"), one might argue (as Lotus does) that copyright doctrines for artistic literary works should apply to some extent to the code of a computer program, which is also a literary work. See, e.g., Whelan Assoc., Inc. v. Jaslow Dental Laboratory, Inc., 797 F.2d 1222, 1233-34 (3d Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 1031 (1987). Thus, if a programmer writes a program in "BASIC" and someone "translates" that program into the programming language "C," the second program is an unauthorized copy notwithstanding the absence of literal similarity at the code level. The two programs are "substantially similar" with respect to their detailed "structure." Hence, a few courts initially applied the doctrine of "comprehensive non-literal similarity" to protect the "structure, sequence and organization" of a computer program, at least to some limited extent. See, e.g., Altai, 982 F.2d at 702-04 (citing cases).
But application of the concept of "comprehensive non-
literal similarity" to computer programs has been controversial
because, unlike artistic works (such as plays), computer programs
are utilitarian objects--they perform a function.15 Copyright,
unlike patent, is a very broad, long-lasting, easily obtainable type
of protection, and Congress has always taken care to ensure that
easily obtainable copyright protection would not be available for
the utilitarian or functional aspects of works.16 As Professor
Miller, formerly a member of CONTU, stated:
The end purpose of a computer program is to achieve a utilitarian result, i.e., the computer's performance of logical operations in a way that produces the desired practical consequence. One cannot compare, therefore, the underlying processes of a computer program with, say, the underlying plot structure of a novel or a screenplay of a movie. This, of course, is the distinction recognized by the Supreme Court long ago in the seminal decision of Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99 (1879).
Kenneth A. Liebman, et al., Back To Basics: A Critique Of The Emerging Judicial Analysis Of The Outer Limits Of Computer Program "Expression," 2 Computer Law., December 1985 at 1, 8 (quoting Arthur Miller). Professor Miller, now Lotus' counsel, summarized this concern best when he opined in a declaration in another case: "The creativity, ideas and utilitarian aspects of a copyrighted work must look elsewhere for legal protection."17
The earliest attempt to apply "non-literal similarity" to computer programs, the Third Circuit's Whelan decision, resulted in protection for virtually all of the program's structure. Whelan, 797 F.2d at 1238. The Second Circuit in Altai rejected the Whelan test because the Whelan test made too much copyrightable. Altai, 982 F.2d at 705-06. Under the Whelan test, the "function" of the computer program is the work's protectable idea, and "everything that is not necessary to that purpose or function would be part of the [protectable] expression of the idea." Whelan, 797 F.2d at 1236. Under the "abstractions" test formulated by the Altai court, far fewer aspects of code structure are protected by copyright. The leading post-Altai decision, the Tenth Circuit's Gates Rubber case, limited the protection of code structure even further by requiring the lower courts specifically to consider the proscriptions of sect. 102(b) in applying the abstractions and filtrations formulations. Gates Rubber, 9 F.3d at 833, 836.
The test formulated by the district court in this case was based on Whelan rather than Altai, and, for that reason, the Altai court rejected the lower court's approach as having a "corrosive effect on certain fundamental tenets of copyright doctrine." Altai, 982 F.2d at 712. More germane for the purposes of Lotus' petition is the fact that the district court sought to apply an abstractions-type analysis to a menu command hierarchy which, unlike a "computer program," is not copyrightable in the first place. Borland II, 799 F. Supp. at 216-19, Pet. App. at 128a- 135a.
The "abstractions" test was initially applied to the text of plays--clearly copyrightable subject matter. Similarly, the leading cases cited by Lotus--Whelan, Altai and Gates Rubber--apply the abstractions test to the code of "computer programs" which Congress expressly has said is copyrightable. By contrast, the district court here applied its own variant of the abstractions test to the method of operating the program, the menu commands. The Lotus petition deftly slides over this critical distinction. Compare Pet. at 14-16 (describing the application of the test by various courts of appeals to the "program") with Pet. at 17 (discussing the district court's application of the test to so-called non-literal elements).
As the First Circuit opinion points out, the abstractions test assumes that the work at issue is copyrightable. 49 F.3d at 815, Pet. App. at 14a. Application of the "abstractions" test to the menu command hierarchy inevitably led the district court to find something in the menu command hierarchy copyrightable, id., and the district court concluded that the specific commands and order chosen by Lotus were protected by copyright. Borland II, 799 F. Supp. at 217, Pet. App. at 131a. In other words, as the First Circuit explained, the district court's test devolved to a question of whether choices exist for the subject matter at issue. 49 F.3d at 811, 816, Pet. App. at 6a, 17a. Under the district court's methodology, if there are choices, the subject matter at issue is copyrightable. But the mere existence of a choice does not turn uncopyrightable subject matter into copyrightable "expression." One might equally argue that the engines of a Ferrari and a Volkswagen embody different "expressions" of the process of internal combustion, or that the QWERTY and Dvorak keyboards are different ways of "expressing" the means by which the user operates a typewriter.
Lotus responds to this reasoning by arguing that "computer programs," unlike car engines and keyboards, are copyrightable. Pet. at 29. Had the district court applied its abstractions test to the computer program, Lotus' argument would be germane. But the district court applied its test to the menu command hierarchy, not to the program. Borland II, 799 F. Supp. at 216-19, Pet. App. at 128a-135a.
Had the district court applied an abstractions test to the programs at issue, it would have quickly found no code or "structural" similarity on any level whatsoever--nonliteral or otherwise. Indeed, there was no allegation in this case that Borland copied or even had access to the "structure" of the Lotus program. Lotus did not produce its code in discovery, neither party introduced the code of its program into evidence at trial, and there is every reason to believe that the Lotus program and the Borland program have vastly different structures to perform the same functions. In short, even after application of the "abstractions" test to the program, the district court would still be faced with the issue of whether the menu commands are copyrightable. That issue can only be resolved by reference to the statute and case law dealing with utilitarian works. In any event, the issues of nonliteral similarity and copyrightability of code structure could not properly be reviewed by this Court in this case, since the narrow issue present here does not raise those broader issues.
B. The District Court's Decision to Extend Copyright to the Words That Operate the Program Ran Afoul of Both the Statute and the Case Law.
The First Circuit's reversal of the district court rests on the
familiar language of sect. 102(b):
In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.
Although the Lotus petition at one point claims that the First Circuit's opinion rejected the idea/expression dichotomy, Pet. at 23, the earlier discussion in the Lotus petition correctly points out that sect. 102(b) is, in fact, the legislative embodiment of the idea/expression dichotomy. Pet. at 10. In short, the First Circuit embraced the demarcation in sect. 102(b) between copyrightable subject matter and uncopyrightable "methods of operation," "systems," and "ideas" which must look to patent law for protection. It was the district court that altered that fundamental demarcation. The First Circuit merely followed the "line" between copyrightable and uncopyrightable subject matter previously established by Congress and this Court in Baker v. Selden.
Confronted with the plain language of sect. 102(b) proscribing copyright protection for methods of operation, the district court limited the statute to abstractions. In the view of the district court, whenever any words are attached to sect. 102(b) subject matter (such as "processes" or "methods of operation"), the words become copyrightable. See Borland I, 788 F. Supp. at 91, Pet. App. at 167a; 49 F.3d at 816, Pet. App. at 17a. As the First Circuit pointed out, limiting uncopyrightable sect. 102(b) subject matter to abstractions moves the line established long ago in Baker v. Selden between copyrightable and uncopyrightable subject matter. For more than 100 years, until the district court's opinion, copyright law was grounded on the proposition that the barest words that state a system or operate a machine (e.g., "move," "copy"), as opposed to a description of those operations (e.g., the long prompts) are uncopyrightable. The district court's opinions moved the "line" between copyrightable and uncopyrightable subject matter established in Baker v. Selden, and that is what produced the enormous public outcry.
In Baker, the plaintiff, Charles Selden, obtained a copyright on a pamphlet that explained a systematic approach to bookkeeping. The pamphlet contained a complex series of ledgers or forms, like the various screen displays in the Lotus user interface. The Selden forms each contained grids, columns, and various alternative short textual descriptive "headings" or "captions" (such as "Balance Forward") like the Lotus menu commands.
The defendant, Baker, published forms similar in headings and arrangement to those of Selden. Selden sued Baker for copyright infringement because of the similarity, arguing--as Lotus argues here--that there was "original expression" in the selection, ordering and arrangement of the headings and columns of the ledgers each contained in his copyrighted pamphlet. See Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. at 101.
Manifestly, since the words on Baker's forms were different from those on Selden's, this Court could have found for Baker solely on the ground that the textual labels were not substantially similar. But this Court did not take that route. Stating the principal issue in the case as whether Baker could use "similar ruled lines and headings, or ruled lines and headings made and arranged on substantially the same system, without violating [Selden's] copyright," id., at 101, this Court held that Selden's ledgers, including their column arrangement and textual headings, were not copyrightable at all--and could be copied verbatim. Id. at 107.
As the Altai court observed, 982 F.2d at 704, the holding
of Baker that methods of operations and systems are not
copyrightable is not restricted to pure abstractions:
[T]he holding in Baker goes farther. The [Supreme] Court concluded that those aspects of a work, which "must necessarily be used as incident to" the idea, system or process that the work describes, are also not copyrightable. 101 U.S. at 104.
The First Circuit relied upon Baker in the same manner as did Altai. It relied upon Baker's limitations on the scope of copyright to conclude that the commands used to operate the Lotus program were not copyrightable. 49 F.3d at 816-17, Pet. App. at 18a. Indeed, the district court's limitation on sect. 102(b) not only ran afoul of Baker v. Selden but was also at variance with the unique facts of this case. Here, as the First Circuit explained, the words at issue are more fundamental to the operation of the program than even labels on buttons would be. 49 F.3d at 817, Pet. App. at 18a-19a. Here, the words of the menu command hierarchy are "essential to operating" the program and, hence, are part of the method of operation. Id. at 18a. As the First Circuit explained, "it would be impossible to operate [the Lotus program] without employing its menu command hierarchy." Id. at 19a. The holding of the First Circuit, narrowly tailored to the facts before it, is wholly consistent with similar cases in other circuits.
C. There Is No Conflict Among the Circuits That Menu Commands and Similar Methods of Operation Are Uncopyrightable.
Lotus argues that the First Circuit's reasoning is contrary to the law in other circuits, and that review of this case is needed to resolve a conflict in the circuits. To the contrary, there is no such conflict on the narrow issue actually presented here.
1. The Ninth Circuit. Lotus cites two cases for an alleged conflict between the First and Ninth Circuits. First, Johnson Controls, Inc. v. Phoenix Control Sys., Inc., 886 F.2d 1173, 1175-76 (9th Cir. 1989), is a code structure case and not pertinent here at all. Second, Lotus relies upon Brown Bag Software v. Symantec Corp., 960 F.2d 1465, 1477 (9th Cir.), cert. denied sub. nom. BB Asset Mgmt. Inc. v. Symantec Corp., 113 S.Ct. 198 (1992), as allegedly creating a conflict. This is misplaced. That Ninth Circuit opinion specifically affirmed the lower court's holding that the menus at issue were "unprotectable under copyright." Id. at 1472. (While there is ambiguous dicta elsewhere in Brown Bag which Lotus cites for the proposition that "menus and keystrokes" are copyrightable, which the First Circuit also noted, see 49 F.3d at 819 n.14, Pet. App. at 22a n.14, that dicta does not alter the Ninth Circuit's ultimate opinion.)
In fact, a prior Ninth Circuit decision--not cited by Lotus-- explicitly held that the menu commands of a spreadsheet software product were uncopyrightable. Ashton-Tate Corp. v. Ross, 916 F.2d 516 (9th Cir. 1990). In Ross, the plaintiff alleged that he had designed and given Ashton-Tate a complete menu hierarchy, including numerous submenus, which Ashton-Tate incorporated into its "Full Impact" spreadsheet product without compensating him. Unlike this case, Ross' list was handwritten, and had been developed before any computer code was written. However, like the Lotus 1-2-3 menu tree, Ross' tree contained both main menus and submenus. (A copy of Ross' actual menu hierarchy was included in the district court record in this case. See Borland II, 799 F. Supp. at 220, Pet. App. at 136a.)
The Ashton-Tate district court ruled against Ross, finding that he was not entitled to compensation because the spreadsheet menu hierarchy was not entitled to copyright protection. Citing 17 U.S.C. sect. 102(b), the District Court held that Ross' "list of labels for user commands . . . is not protected under federal law." Ashton-Tate Corp. v. Ross, 728 F. Supp. 597, 602 (N.D. Cal. 1989). On appeal, Ross renewed his argument, the very same argument to justify copyrightability (i.e.. the presence of choices) advanced by the district court here. Ross argued that his menu command hierarchy evidenced
numerous decisions by the authors about the
ordering of the commands and their arrangement
in the user interface. The fact that the authors of
these design documents chose the order and
groupings displayed, out of a nearly infinite
number of possibilities, constitutes creative
Appellants' [Ross'] Opening Brief on Appeal at 25, 1st Cir. App.
1168. The Ninth Circuit confronted this argument directly and
rejected it, stating that "[t]his argument is meritless for the reasons
given in the district court's order, 728 F. Supp. at 602. The list
simply does not qualify for copyright protection." 916 F.2d at
Lotus does not mention Ashton-Tate, perhaps because the district court explicitly declined to follow it. Borland II, 799 F. Supp. at 220, Pet. App. at 136a. By reversing the district court and agreeing with Ashton-Tate's conclusion, the First Circuit removed any conflict with the Ninth Circuit, rather than creating one.
2. The Tenth Circuit. Lotus argues, and the First Circuit suggested, that the court's holding was in conflict with dicta in a footnote in Autoskill, Inc. v. National Educ. Support Sys., Inc., 994 F.2d 1476, 1495 n.23 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 114 U.S. 307 (1993). A careful examination of Autoskill and subsequent Tenth Circuit authority reveals that there is no such conflict worthy of review at this time. Footnote 23 in Autoskill appears to hold that, for the purposes of a preliminary injunction, the district court did not improperly enjoin a computer program where a student/user selected responses to the program's queries "by pressing the 1, 2, or 3 keys." 994 F.2d at 1495 n.23. The First Circuit noted this dicta and declined to "follow" the reasoning of this footnote. 49 F.3d at 813, 818-19, Pet. App. at 12a, 21a-22a.
To the extent that the Autoskill footnote bears on the issues of copyrightability of menus and was rejected by the First Circuit, it had already been rejected by the Tenth Circuit itself. In Gates Rubber, 9 F.3d 823, the Tenth Circuit limited its prior holding in Autoskill because that case only involved the review of a preliminary injunction order. Id. at 841. The Tenth Circuit vacated the Gates Rubber district court's finding that computer menus were copyrightable, and remanded the case to that district court for further consideration and analysis under the appropriate legal standards. Id. at 843-44.
The uncopyrightability of computer menus in the Tenth Circuit was confirmed by the very recent decision by the Gates Rubber district court, after the Tenth Circuit's remand. Gates Rubber Co. v. Bando Chem. Indus., Ltd., No. 92-S-136 (D. Colo. filed June 12, 1995). Using the analysis ordered by the Tenth Circuit, the District of Colorado found that the menus of that program were uncopyrightable. Slip op. at 6-7. It saw no conflict among the circuits. To the contrary, the Colorado court approvingly cited the First Circuit's opinion in Lotus v. Borland without noting any conflict. Id. at 7. To the extent that Gates Rubber still poses any issues worthy of review, this Court can ultimately grant review of that case.18
3. The Fifth Circuit. Lotus also relies upon Engineering Dynamics, 26 F.3d 1335 (5th Cir. 1994), supplemented on pet. for reh'g, 46 F.3d 408 (5th Cir. 1995). Initially, Engineering Dynamics was the only court of appeals case which, like the district court opinions here, purported to apply an "abstractions"-like test directly to a "non-literal element." That particular non-literal element was the input formats to the computer program, and not a method of operating the program. Therefore, sect. 102(b) did not play any role in the court's decision. Indeed, the court did not base its reasoning on any analysis of sect. 102(b) or of methods of operation.
As discussed above, following the publication of the original opinion in Engineering Dynamics, the Fifth Circuit was deluged with requests for rehearing. It issued a supplemental opinion (not cited by Lotus) which greatly if not completely undercuts Lotus' arguments. The Fifth Circuit's supplemental opinion rejected the assertion that it protected the user formats in that case because there were "numerous ways the input formats could be organized." It instead stated that "[t]he panel did not say that in any case involving user interface the fact that the `author' has selected from among possible formats is dispositive." 46 F.3d at 409. This is consistent with the First Circuit's views on one of the issues in dispute here, namely whether the availability of "expressive choices" in designing the menu command hierarchy makes the menus copyrightable. See 49 F.3d at 816, Pet. App. at 17a. Significantly, since the Fifth Circuit remanded that case for further proceedings, this Court can eventually review Engineering Dynamics if those proceedings result in any real conflict with the First Circuit.
4. The Second and Third Circuits. Finally, Lotus argues that this case conflicts with the Second and Third Circuit opinions in Altai and Whelan. As explained above, those cases involved the non-literal copying of code structure, rather than the "method of operation" issues involved here, and hence do not conflict with the narrow issues presented by this case. Moreover, Lotus is incorrect that the First Circuit "rejected" Altai's abstraction-filtration-comparison test. The First Circuit did not reject Altai; to the contrary, it held that "the Altai test may provide a useful framework for assessing the alleged nonliteral copying of computer code." 49 F.3d at 815, Pet. App. at 14a. That issue is not present here, and could not properly be dealt with by this Court upon review. Finally, while Altai and numerous other courts have harshly criticized Whelan, see 982 F.2d at 705-06, that hardly makes this a suitable case to review the viability of Whelan. Indeed, since Altai is still pending before the Second Circuit, this Court can grant review of that case to address the Altai/Whelan debate.
II. THE FIRST CIRCUIT OPINION REMOVES THE UNCERTAINTY PRODUCED BY THE DISTRICT COURT AND UPHOLDS THE OVERALL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY FRAMEWORK ESTABLISHED BY CONGRESS.
A. The First Circuit Opinion Restores Clarity and Predictability to the Law.
In the First Circuit, many of Borland's amici urged reversal of the district court because of the uncertainty created by the district court's methodology and result. It is ironic in the extreme that Lotus would now petition this Court, claiming it is the First Circuit's decision that has produced uncertainty. Software developers obviously need clear rules to enhance productivity. Prior to the district court's decisions, developers and their counsel, relying on sect. 102(b), Baker v. Selden and Ashton- Tate v. Ross, believed that menu commands and similar methods of operating a program were uncopyrightable. The First Circuit has now restored that clarity.
The alternative offered by Lotus, a case-by-case determination of whether sect. 102(b) means what it says, would have a chilling effect on software development. One need look no further than the facts of this case to understand the grave difficulties such a regime would portend. Here, two years, two opinions, hundreds of pages, and millions of dollars into this case, the district court could still not determine the "precise scope of Borland's infringement," Borland II, 799 F. Supp. at 221, Pet. App. at 138a, without another year and one-half of proceedings. Under the regime proposed by Lotus, new and better products that compete for the business of a competitor's customers can be brought to market legally only at the cost of one's company. In rejecting such a regime, the First Circuit has restored clarity to at least a portion of the overall intellectual property protection framework established by Congress. Equally important is the fact that the First Circuit's opinion restores the long-standing demarcation between copyright and patent law.
Copyright is broad, long-lasting, easily obtainable protection. Copyright protection is obtained for copyrightable elements of a computer program merely by making a deposit of any copyrightable subject matter (such as code). See Copyright Office Circular 61, Copyright Registration for Computer Programs, at 2, 1st Cir. App. 1170. There is no examination procedure. The copyright lasts for approximately 75 years. Because copyright protection is so easy to obtain, and lasts so long, it was neither intended for, nor is it suited for, the granting of government-sanctioned monopolies for methods of operation. See, e.g., Goldstein Treatise, sect. 2.3.1 at 78, sect. 2.15.2 at 207; Paul Goldstein, Infringement of Copyright in Computer Programs, 47 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 1119, 1123-24 (1986). The monopoly on a menu command hierarchy or similar "method of operation" has far greater ramifications than even the monopoly on the "structure" of a program. Protecting code structure has no preclusive effect on the program's users. However, precluding a competitor's product from offering another's method of operation means that users will lose their investment in the skill set necessary to implement that method of operation if they switch to a competitor's product. 49 F.3d at 821, Pet. App. at 26a-27a.
Such a broad government-sanctioned monopoly must be secured, if at all, through the patent system. Patents on "methods of operation" are difficult to obtain and last a relatively short period of time (20 years or less). Patent applications must state the invention, describe the prior art, and set forth the claims for protection clearly and specifically. There is a complex examination process to ensure that the patentee will be contributing something new to the state-of-the-art (i.e., something novel and non-obvious, an advancement over the prior art, etc.), as the quid pro quo for the grant of monopoly. None of these safeguards are present in the copyright system established by Congress because it was (and is) not contemplated that the scope of copyright protection is tantamount to that of patent. Unless sect. 102(b) is recognized for what Congress intended it to be, the copyright law would afford over-extensive protection to works by applying only the most minimal level of scrutiny. The First Circuit's opinion is consistent with the intellectual property framework established by Congress and supports its rationale.
In short, Lotus lost this case because it tried to secure patent-type protection without satisfying the patent requirements of novelty, examination and contribution to the prior art. If, like the plaintiff in Baker v. Selden, Lotus cannot meet these requirements, or if it chooses not even to try, it should not be able to claim the same scope of protection through copyright law. That, as the Baker Court observed, "would be a surprise and a fraud upon the public. That is the province of letters-patent not of copyright." 101 U.S. at 102.
B. Both Copyright and Patent Remain Sources of Strong Protection, Providing Enormous Incentives for Authors and Inventors of Software Products to Innovate.
Lotus' suggestion that the First Circuit's ruling "could serve to roll back the scope of protection for computer programs generally," Pet. at 29, is wholly unfounded. Copyright protection remains a powerful and sufficient incentive for the development of new software. Copyright protects against piratical copying of object code. Copyright protects against appropriation of source code, either literally or by paraphrasing. Perhaps, in appropriate circumstances, copyright also protects against copying the detailed "structure" of another's program.
Nor does the First Circuit's opinion call into question the screen display portion of a "user interface." Compare Pet. at 28. As the Altai court observed, copyright protection for screen displays does not depend on the protection of "non-literal elements" of the computer program. Rather, copyright protects against the unauthorized reproduction of "certain types of screen displays," that are "copyrighted separately as an audiovisual work." Altai, 982 F.2d at 703. The First Circuit did not even remotely suggest that screen displays are uncopyrightable. Rather, its holding that menu commands are uncopyrightable does not interfere with the protection of screen displays "because the way the screens look has little bearing on how users control the program." 49 F.3d at 816 & n.10, Pet. App. at 16a.
Menu commands and similar methods of operating the program continue to be protected by the patent law, as they always have been. The record below contains several examples of menu command hierarchies, including those of IBM (Lotus' new owner) that are protected by utility patents. Borland S.J. Brief, Exs. 16 & 23 (U.S. Patents Nos. 4,989,141, 4,611,306). Indeed, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has recently announced it is changing the rules for patentability of software, making it even easier to obtain software patents.19
This Court has made it clear that only Congress may redraw the balance between private monopoly and public access. The courts are required to defer to Congress "when major technological innovations alter the market for copyrighted materials." Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417, 431 (1984). If Congress has not expressly chosen to expand the scope of copyright protection, it is not the job of the courts to do so. On the contrary, "[i]n a case like this, in which Congress has not plainly marked our course, we must be circumspect in construing the scope of rights created by a legislative enactment which never contemplated such a calculus of interests." Id. The district court in this case plainly thought that it was empowered to create new law in "uncharted" territory and to "draw the line between copyrightable and non-copyrightable elements of computer programs." Borland I, 788 F. Supp. at 90, Pet. App. at 165a; Paperback, 740 F. Supp. at 53, Pet. App. at 206a. In so doing, the district court usurped the role of Congress. The First Circuit corrected this error.
Twenty years ago, the first personal computers had no screens or keyboards; the users operated the machines by pressing buttons or switches on the front of the machines. No one would ever claim that such buttons were copyrightable. Twenty years from now, users will operate personal computers with spoken words, and without any physical buttons or keyboards. It is inconceivable that anyone could claim that such spoken methods of operation will be copyrightable. At the intermediate stage of technology relevant here, Lotus used typed words as the buttons or switches to operate its spreadsheet program. Those words are no more copyrightable than physical buttons were twenty years ago, or than spoken commands will be twenty years from now.
For the foregoing reasons, the petition for a writ of certiorari should be denied.
Gary L. Reback
(Counsel of Record)
Isabella E. Fu
Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati Professional Corporation
650 Page Mill Road
Palo Alto, California 94304
Telephone: (415) 493-9300
Peter E. Gelhaar
Katherine L. Parks
Donnelly, Conroy & Gelhaar
One Post Office Square
Boston, Massachusetts 02109
Telephone: (617) 542-7400
Attorneys for Respondent
1 See Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., 788 F. Supp. 78 (D. Mass. 1992) ("Borland I"), Pet. App. at 145a; Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., 799 F. Supp. 203 (D. Mass. 1992) ("Borland II"), Pet. App. at 106a; Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., 831 F. Supp. 202 (D. Mass. 1993) ("Borland III"), Pet. App. at 71a; Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., 831 F. Supp. 223 (D. Mass. 1993) ("Borland IV"), Pet. App. at 29a. Each of these opinions refers to and is based upon an earlier decision of the district court, Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Paperback Software Int'l, 740 F. Supp. 37 (D. Mass. 1990) ("Paperback"), Pet. App. at 183a, which decision was not appealed.
2 See, e.g., Steven W. Lundberg et al., Identifying Uncopyrightable Computer Implemented Processes and Systems, 9 Computer Law., Apr. 1992, at 7, 9 ("the Court in Lotus [v. Paperback] could never have reached the correct conclusion since it never laid the fundamental groundwork for it"); Timothy S. Teter, Note, Merger and the Machines: An Analysis of the Pro-Compatibility Trend in Computer Software Copyright Cases, 45 Stan. L. Rev. 1061 (1993); Pamela Samuelson, Computer Programs, User Interfaces, and Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act of 1976: A Critique of Lotus v. Paperback, 55 Law & Contemp. Probs., Spring 1992, at 311, 352-53; Karen S. Kovach, Comment, Computer Software Design; User Interface--Idea or Expression? 60 U. Cin. L. Rev. 161 (1991) (Paperback improperly extended copyright protection to Lotus' menu command system); Julian Velasco, The Copyrightability of Nonliteral Elements of Computer Programs, 94 Columbia L.Rev. 242, 262-65 (1994). These authorities are cited in Borland's Petition for Initial In Banc Hearing, filed with the First Circuit on November 10, 1993 ("Borland's In Banc Brief"), at 2 n.9.
3 See, e.g., Susan Kostal, Copyright Scholars Want a Fine Point Put on Spreadsheet Case, S.F. Daily J., Oct. 4, 1991, at 1, 8; Lotus Wins Copyright Suit, Mass. Law. Wkly., Aug. 10, 1992, at 23. See Borland's In Banc Brief at 3 n.10.
4 See, e.g., Borland Gains in Bid For Appeals Ruling On Lotus Copyrights, Wall. St. J., Aug. 20, 1993, at B3; William M. Bulkeley, Borland Case Briefs Raise Questions About Software Copyright Protection, Wall. St. J., Oct. 4, 1991, at B4; William M. Bulkeley, Borland Loses Infringement Claim by Lotus, Wall St. J., Aug. 13, 1993, at B5; T.R. Reid, Consumers Lose When Software Makers Sue Each Other, Wash. Post, Oct. 25, 1993, at F18; John R. Wilke, Ruling Against Borland May Intensify Copyright Debate, Wall. St. J., August 3, 1992, at B1, B4. See Borland's In Banc Brief at 3 n.11.
5 Heather Clancy, Copyright laws blurred, Computer Reseller News, Aug. 17, 1992, at 137; Peter Coffee, Key Reader verdict shows need for open standards, PC Week, Aug. 30, 1993, at 32; Ed Foster, That's a nice macro you wrote. Too bad Lotus now owns it, InfoWorld, Aug. 23, 1993, at 45; Ed Foster, Too-tight legal controls can straightjacket a whole industry, InfoWorld, Sept. 6, 1993, at 49; Beth Freedman, Experts Question Ruling In Lotus-Borland Case, PC Week, Aug. 10, 1992, at 6; Steve Gibson, Lotus ruling will damage the industry if it protects languages, InfoWorld, Sept. 14, 1992, at 42. See Borland's In Banc Brief at 3 n.12.
6 See the following: Brief Amicus Curiae of Computer Software Industry Association, representing over 3000 companies and professional individuals; Brief of Amicus Curiae Software Entrepreneurs' Forum, representing over 1000 independent software developers, consultants and software providers; Amicus Brief of 81 Distinguished Computer Scientists; Brief of Amicus Curiae (PC User Groups), representing over 16,500 individual and corporate PC users, including Fortune 500 companies; Brief of Amicus Curiae of American Committee for Interoperable Systems (including members such as Sun Microsystems, Tandem Computers and AT&T Global Information Solutions); Two Briefs Amicus Curiae on behalf of 25 Distinguished Copyright Law Professors; and Brief of Amicus Curiae on behalf of the Register of Copyrights.
7 It is true, of course, that a computer program might be described as a "method of operating" the computer and, as a consequence, Congress was required to expressly include "computer programs" in the copyright statute to ensure that computer programs would be copyrightable. But Congress did not amend the copyright statute to make menu commands, buttons, switches, and similar methods of operating a program copyrightable. On the contrary, sect. 102(b) of the Copyright Act plainly states that "methods of operation" are uncopyrightable. Lotus would have the courts make law that contradicts the express language of the statute.
8 It should be noted that the Kapor Affidavit was not prepared in support of Lotus' position in the Borland case. Rather, the affidavit was prepared for Lotus in the earlier Paperback case in which the defendant copied Lotus' entire screen display, not merely the command words. Subsequent to the Paperback decision, as the record below indicates, the author of the affidavit (who is the principal designer of the Lotus product) made it clear in Congressional testimony that he does not believe it is beneficial to the industry to extend copyright protection to individual elements of a screen display--e.g., the menus. That, in his view, would constitute "overprotection" that is "pernicious" and "stifling." See Brief of Amicus Curiae Software Entrepreneur's Forum, filed in the First Circuit on Dec. 23, 1993, at 6.
9 See, e.g., Raburn Decl. at para.14, RE 3: Borland III, 831 F. Supp. at 213, Pet. App. at 86a-87a.
10 49 F.3d at 809-10, 819-21, Pet. App. at 4a, 24a-27a. See also Paperback, 740 F. Supp. at 64-65, Pet. App. at 228a; Borland II, 799 F. Supp. at 213-14, Pet. App. at 110a; Borland IV, 831 F. Supp. at 227, Pet. App. at 31a.
11 Ex. 38 (Houdini Analysis of Competitive Products) at L047694, 1st Cir. App. 1196. As a result of macros, 1-2-3 became, in the words of Lotus' own documents, "entrenched." Ex. 39 (Review of Excel) at L046265, 1st Cir. App. 1198.
12 See Ex. 1 and 2, 1st Cir. App. 1134; Borland S.J. Brief (Dkt. No. 141) at 2 n.3.
13 P. Kahn Tr. at 65-66, RE 10-11; Bosworth Tr. at 148, 1st Cir. App. 748; Ex. 27 at L034481, 1st Cir. App. 1178.
14 See Tr. of Sept. 23, 1992 Hearing at 54, 1st Cir. App. 18; Tr. of Oct. 16, 1992 Hearing at 15-17, 1st Cir. App. 24-25; Tr. of Aug. 19, 1993 Hearing (Dkt. No. 406) at 42-43.
15 Altai, 982 F.2d at 704; Paul Goldstein, Copyright, sect. 2.15 at 195 (1989) ("Goldstein Treatise").
16 See, e.g., H.R. Rep. No. 1476, 94th Cong., 2d Sess. 54-55 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5659, 5667-68.
17 In declarations in an earlier case in which Professor Miller was the retained expert for the party accused of infringement, Professor Miller opined on the CONTU deliberations and the role of copyright in protecting computer programs. Those declarations can be found in the record below as exhibits to the Reply Brief of Defendant/Appellant Borland International, Inc., filed in the First Circuit on March 1, 1994. The quoted portion in the text is from the second declaration at para. 29.
18 A few district courts have protected the menu aspects of screen displays by generally focusing on artistic and stylistic aspects of display, rather than the words themselves. For example, in Digital Comm. Assoc., Inc. v. Softklone Distrib. Corp., 659 F. Supp. 449, 460 (N.D. Ga. 1987), the district court protected the "highlighting" and "capitalizing" of certain menus only because they "have no relationship to the functioning . . . of the computer program." Similarly, Manufacturers Technologies, Inc. v. CAMS, Inc., 706 F. Supp. 984, 995-998 (D. Conn. 1989), provided protection to only the three screens that were not limited by functionality and denied copyright protection to the words and format of most menus. Where only the methods of operation were involved, district courts have declined to protect computer menus under the copyright laws. See Mitek Holdings, Inc. v. Arce Eng'g Co., 864 F. Supp. 1568, 1579-80 (S.D. Fla. 1994).
19 See U.S. Department of Commerce, Press Release No. 95-21, Software Patent Guidelines Released Today, 6/1/95, 60 Fed. Reg. 28,778 (proposed June 2, 1995); B. Rosewicz, Patent Office Acts to Clarify Software Rules, Wall St. J., June 2, 1995, at A1; U.S. Department of Commerce, Press Release No. 95-18, USPTO to Develop Guidelines to Protect Software Inventions, 3/30/95; M. Betts, Feds to ease software patent guidelines, Computerworld, April 17, 1995, at 20.
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