In Digital Communications Associates, Inc. v. Softklone Distributing Corp., the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia rejected "standardization" as a reason to deny copyright protection to user interface design. The court also rejected the proposition, advanced six months earlier in Broderbund Software, Inc. v. Unison World, Inc., that copyright protection of the underlying computer program extends to the screen displays generated by that program. Once it found the screen displays to be separately copyrightable, the Softklone court evaluated each feature of the display individually, and extended copyright protection to some elements of the user interface. Although the court erroneously refused to protect the program's command language, it properly affirmed broad protection for the user interface of computer programs.
Alan S. Middleton,
A Thousand Clones: The Scope of Copyright Protection in the "Look and Feel" of Computer Programs—Digital Communications Associates, Inc. v. Softklone Distributing Corp., 659 F. Supp. 449 (N.D. Ga. 1987),
63 Wash. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol63/iss1/20