In 1992, a judge ruled against Apple Computer in it’s copyright infringement case against Microsoft. Apple claimed that parts of the Windows graphical user interface were part of the Macintosh, and filed suit against Microsoft in the mid 80s. Microsoft contended in trial that large parts of the interface were theirs under a contract agreement between the two companies in 1985, which the court agreed with. This left only ten features of the original Mac GUI that Apple claimed Microsoft had no right to use.
This led to an analytical dissection of the elements in the interface and each got a separate ruling on whether they were considered an idea or legally protected copyrighted material. Apple was forced to rely on a defense based on the “look and feel” of the operating system, but the careful comparison made by Judge Vaughn Walker ran contrary to that idea. He ruled on August 7th that none of the features were considered protected under copyright law, effectively dismissing the case against Microsoft.