Myth: Copyright Theft, Apple Stole GUI from Xerox PARC Alto
Myth: Xerox Lost Its Copyright Action Due to Statute of Limitations
“The lawsuit was dismissed because Xerox had waited too long to file suit, and the statue* of limitations had expired.”
The New York Times article on the dismissal of important Xerox claims had no mention from the court of statute of limitations. The statute of limitation myths seem to have come from people unrelated to the lawsuit.
Xerox Lost Copyright Lawsuit Against Apple, Summary
Xerox’s 6 claims in its copyright lawsuit can be classified into three groups:
(Count II, III) Xerox claim: Apple’s Macintosh screen copyrights should be declared invalid, “contending that they were fraudulently obtained because Apple had failed to tell the Copyright Office about Xerox’s prior work.” 
(Counts IV, V, VI) Xerox claim: unfair competition from Apple, saying “Apple’s claim to Macintosh screen technology had made it difficult for Xerox to license its technology to other companies.” 
(Count I) Xerox request: declaration that it is the sole owner of the Star technology.
Court: judge said that “to bring suit on that count, Xerox would have to show it had a reasonable fear that Apple would try to take away Xerox’s copyrights. He gave Xerox 30 days to come up with the evidence and a list of witnesses.” Reported by The New York Times. 
Keep in mind the judge threw out all the counts seeking damages (count II-VI), thus the result of this last part of the lawsuit is insignificant.
Update: Court document found
Xerox vs. Apple Computers Inc., San Francisco 1990, U.S. District Court / Federal Court System
The court document “ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS, DENYING SANCTIONS, AND MODIFYING STAY OF DISCOVERY” from the United States District Court, N.D. California contains detailed reasons for the rejection of the Xerox arguments.
This court order indicated various reasons but “Statute of Limitations” did not seem to have any significant impact on the court’s decision (if any).
For example, “37 C.F.R. § 201.7(c) (1988). The declaration of Dorothy Schrader submitted by Xerox consists largely of legal conclusions and contains no facts that would tend to support Xerox’ claims under Counts II and III.” 
Although there is a third party analysis that mentions Apple claiming statute of limitation as part of the defense, the court order did not seem to indicate statute of limitation is a significant contributing factor for the court’s decision.
Thus, saying “Statute of Limitations” is the reason why Xerox lost its GUI copyright case against Apple Computers Inc. is wrong.
*(By the way, please note common misspelling: “Statue of Limitations” is incorrect. The Correct spelling is Statute of Limitations with 3 ‘t’s)
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