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

Friday, March 5, 2010
By OP Editor

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Myth: Xerox Lost Its Copyright Action Due to Statute of Limitations

Myth:
“The lawsuit was dismissed because Xerox had waited too long to file suit, and the statue* of limitations had expired.”

Fact:
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.” [7]

Court: rejected.

(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.” [7]

Court: rejected.

(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. [7]

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.” [8]

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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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?

    1
  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?

    2
  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

    3
  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!!!

    4
    • 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?

      4.1
  5. brrry

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

    5
  6. brrry

    Did Apple steal the idea?
    No
    Did Apple copy the idea?
    Yes
    Yes, Apple Paid for the rights to use it but it does not mean they invented it.

    6
    • 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.

      6.1

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