Myth: Copyright Theft, Apple Stole GUI from Xerox PARC Alto

Friday, March 5, 2010
By OP Editor

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Xerox sued because Apple stole GUI from PARC

Why else would Xerox sue Apple for $150 million for copyright infringement if Apple did not steal GUI from PARC?

Anyone can make any claim in court. In this case, Xerox lost the case. The U.S. Federal court dismissed all of Xerox’s copyright claims seeking damages against Apple.

After Apple sued Microsoft and HP for copyright infringement of GUI elements that are similar to those used in Apple computers (look and feel lawsuits), Xerox accuses Apple of unlawfully using Xerox copyrights in its Macintosh and Lisa computers. Xerox’s new CEO wanted to get paid in case Apple won its copyright lawsuits. The lawsuit is more relevant to the fact that Xerox received no royalties or financial earnings from Apple besides the Apple stock deal.

Apple response: “Apple intends to prove in court that the audio-visual expressions in the Lisa and Macintosh interfaces were wholly original to Apple and duly registered with the copyright office.” [6]

The outcome of the Xerox vs. Apple lawsuit pretty much confirms what the Apple attorney said in court in its motion for dismissal: “Xerox’s asserting that it had originated the Macintosh was as preposterous as a beaver taking credit for the Hoover Dam.” [7]

The New York Times, March 24, 1990: “A Federal judge today dismissed almost all the closely watched copyright lawsuit filed by the Xerox Corporation against Apple Computer Inc. In what appears to be a sweeping victory for Apple, Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the Federal District Court in San Francisco threw out five of the six counts in Xerox’s lawsuit, saying, in essence, that Xerox’s complaints were inappropriate for a variety of legal reasons.” [7]

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Tags: Analysis, Apple, Legal, Myths, Prototype, Technology

12 Responses to “Myth: Copyright Theft, Apple Stole GUI from Xerox PARC Alto”

  1. Dave52

    “Did Apple Stole Xerox PARC GUI Intellectual Property Without Permission?”

    1. By definition, all stealing is without permission, else it wouldn’t be stealing.

    2. “Did Apple Stole”: Grammar checker, anyone?

  2. prak

    Dude, this is a great little bit of de-bunking, but your atrocious composition and grammar mean that I can’t send anyone here. They won’t believe anything written so poorly could be credible!

    Do you need some assistance working out the kinks in your writing?

  3. bazjapan

    So can we say Apple copied the ideas already in place at xerox then going on to later refine them? Seems like a normal process to me. Why are we apple users so brainwashed into thinking that Jobs et al were/are somehow above all. That they are God like and free of any wrong doing. That their ideas are exclusive and if they are not their own, they really should be credited with them anyway. In my opinion, Apple have become a fairly ruthless bunch that support open standards when it suits and generally speak in ‘double speak’. That said they do make cool stuff, but so do other companies! Thanks

  4. Monarky

    Oh…. I see! You’ve got a hidden agenda to keep the truth off this site! Very Lame and you’ll lose with your mis-information in the end!!!

    • Let’s see. References include New York Times, Motley fool. So sure, information from those sites are completely wrong. Not.

      Or perhaps someone cannot handle the truth?

  5. brrry

    copying with or without consent doesn’t change anything.
    still not apples invention.

  6. brrry

    Did Apple steal the idea?
    Did Apple copy the idea?
    Yes, Apple Paid for the rights to use it but it does not mean they invented it.

    • Apple did invent various aspects of the modern GUI, as explained in the article such as “drag and drop”.

      One thing that Apple does well is bringing abstract concepts and technology to the masses.


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