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The Lotus Look

Lotus won its three-year old suit against Paperback Software for copying the look and feel of 123. The decision said that Paperback Software had violated Lotus's copyright, although another suit Lotus has brought against Mosaic Software for their 123 clone, Twin, was not mentioned. Paperback Software's products VP-Planner and VP-Planner Plus copied the Lotus "slash" style interface exactly to provide complete compatibility with 123.

Richard Stallman, from the League of Programming Freedom, was quoted in an InfoWorld article as saying the ruling was "a disaster for all users of computers and especially for anyone who wants to program them." The League of Programming Freedom last year distributed a flyer at the Boston Macworld Expo condemning Apple's suit against HP and Microsoft. The flyer made its point by illustrating what a keyboard might look like if a company had claimed the QWERTY layout as proprietary look and feel.

We feel that the decision is a blow to software developers because it prevents interface duplication for ease of use, unless a company like Apple or Microsoft with Windows decrees the look and feel. However, we also feel that software developers should concentrate on improving the software world rather than merely increasing the number of similar packages. The world does not need another 123-clone, but it could use some standard, but user-extensible (meaning you can easily modify your own interface as you like) interfaces. The Mac and to a lesser extent, Windows are helping, but these silly suits must be done away with. Read whatever definition into "suits" that you want. :-)

Information from:
Eric Lund -- elund@pro-graphics.cts.com
Adam C. Engst -- TidBITS Editor

Related articles:
InfoWorld -- 02-Jul-90, Vol. 12 #27, pg. 1
PC WEEK -- 02-Jul-90, Vol. 7 #26, pg. 6