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Digital Communications v. Softklone

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Citation Edit

Digital Communications Assoc. v. Softklone Distributing Corp., 659 F. Supp. 449 (N.D. Ga. 1987) (full-text).

Background Edit

The status screen for the software contained a number of parameter/command terms ground under various headings. Each command term reflected the setting of a parameter affecting the transmission of data through a communications channel. Two letters of each parameter/command term were capitalized and highlighted on the screen. By typing those two letters, the user could invoke the corresponding command to change a parameter. The defendant produced a competing communications program that had a status screen virtually identical to the plaintiff's status screen.

District Court Proceedings Edit

The district court held that the status screen was copyrightable and that the defendant had infringed. The court found that the particular arrangement and grouping of the parameter/command terms on the screen, and the highlighting and capitalizing of two specific letters of each term constituted copyrightable expression which evidenced "considerable stylistic creativity and authorship above and beyond the ideas embodied in the status screen."[1]

The court explicitly rejected defense argument's that the need for standardization in the computer industry should allow the defendant more latitude in using the same arrangement of status screen commands as the plaintiff's program, which had become a standard.

References Edit

  1. 659 F. Supp. at 460.

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