User Interface Copyright
The League for Programming Freedom is opposed to copyrighting the user interfaces of computer programs. Our 1991 position paper Against User Interface Copyright explains our position (also available in ASCII text, postscript, and Texinfo).
In March 1995, the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the 1993 decision of Judge Keeton of Boston in Lotus' lawsuit against Borland. Lotus sued Borland for copyright infringement on Lotus 1-2-3.
In its decision the appeals court determined that Lotus' menu structures, incorporated into Borland's Quatro Pro spreadsheet, are "an uncopyrightable method of operation".
Lotus subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court. The LPF filed an amicus brief on behalf of Borland.
On 16 January 1996, the Supreme Court upheld the 1st Circuit ruling against Lotus, entering the following per curium order:
The judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is affirmed by an equally divided Court.
Justice Stevens took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
The Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 which meant that Borland won the case and that the 1st Circuit ruling against user interface copyright stands as the law of the land.