Legal Battles That Shaped the Computer Industry

Legal Battles That Shaped the Computer Industry

Legal Battles That Shaped the Computer Industry

Legal Battles That Shaped the Computer Industry


A few lawsuits have changed the entire shape of the computer industry and nearly every aspect of computers has come under litigation. These legal struggles have confused computer and legal amateurs as well as many lawyers, juries, and judges. Graham surveys the industry's legal past and shows how it frames the future. His book is a comprehensive and fascinating study of this dynamic and contentious industry.


From the day the first crude computer turned a logical 0 (zero) into a logical 1 (one), the computer industry has mushroomed. Most Americans today either have a computer at home or use one at work, or both. With more than two million professional programmers and several million additional employees, the computer industry is well on its way to becoming a $1 trillion industry.

The growth of litigation in the computer industry has substantially paralleled the growth of the computer industry itself. Considering the enormous increase in computer-related litigation, it is not surprising that intellectual property is the hottest specialty in the legal profession.

Although computer law has been an active field, it has also been an unpredictable one. The law governing computers was particularly sketchy during the industry’s nascent period. Prior to 1976, it was unclear whether programmers had any legal rights in the software they developed. In 1976, Congress modified the copyright statutes to specify that software was eligible for copyright protection. Unfortunately, Congress offered little guidance to the courts about how to apply the copyright laws to software. With each lawsuit, the courts added to the sketchy foundation of the copyright laws, developing “the law” (the combination of statutes and court opinions) as they went along. Because the courts have so often made the law at the same time that they applied it, many computer-related lawsuits have greatly affected the industry.

My primary purpose in writing this book is to outline some of the significant legal battles that helped lay the foundation for the development of both the computer industry and computer law. In many instances, these legal battles have changed the course of the computer

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