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Apple v. Microsoft – Court of Appeals Decision

September 1994

Since Apple first sued Microsoft for copyright infringement in 1988, claiming that the Microsoft Windows interface infringed the Apple interface, we have carefully followed and reported on the case. In our October 1992 issue we summarized the full history of the litigation, and reported that the trial judge had ruled against Apple on every issue in the case. Apple appealed these rulings to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has now affirmed the trial court’s decisions. The Court of Appeals held that, under the circumstances of the case (which involved a contract between Apple and Microsoft that took the case out of the realm of pure copyright law), Apple’s burden was to prove “virtually identical copying,” rather than “substantial similarity.” Since Apple concededly could not meet this standard, it could not prevail. For all practical purposes, this decision ends Apple’s seven year struggle to challenge Windows. Apple’s last hope is the slim possibility of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Postscript: Apple’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied.