Synercom Technology, Inc. v. University Computing Co., 462 F. Supp. 1003, 199 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 537 (N.D. Tex. 1978) (full-text).
Trial Court Proceedings Edit
The issue before the court was whether plaintiff's sequencing of data input formats for a statistical analysis program could be protected by copyright. The court rejected the plaintiff's position and held that the sequence and ordering of data input was unprotected idea; in dicta, the Court stated that a further ground for finding no copyright protection was that the plaintiff's input formats were "blank forms" whose idea had merged into its expression.
The court analogized the sequence and ordering of the plaintiff's forms to the familiar "H" clutch pattern used in stick shift automobiles. The court reasoned that another automobile maker would be free to create another car using the same "pattern," and that to allow such copying would be "socially desirable" because "admittedly there are many more possible choices of computer formats, but this does not detract from the force of the analogy."
For the court it was enough that the input formats represented a barrier to third parties who wished to be able to have their programs also use data which had already been formatted for the plaintiff's program; accordingly, the court gave priority to compatibility and competition.