ECJ Opinion – Intellectual Property – Directive 91/250/EEC – Legal protection of computer programs – Definition of ‘all forms of expression of a computer program’ – Inclusion of the GUI program – Copyright – Directive 2001/29/EC – Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society – Television broadcasting of a graphical user interface – to communicate a work to the public.
Bot AG recognised that the development of an interface required considerable intellectual effort on the part of its developer. That intellectual effort included using a programming language to create a complex structure. But that did not necessarily mean that the product of that intellectual effort qualified for copyright protection. He continued: ‘The difficulty as regards determination of the originality of the graphic user interface lies in the fact that the majority of the elements which comprise it have a functional purpose, since they are intended to facilitate the use of the computer program. Accordingly, the manner in which those elements are expressed can be only limited since, as the Commission stated in its written submissions, the expression is dictated by the technical function which those elements fulfil. Such is the case, for example, of the mouse which moves the cursor across the screen, pointing at the command button in order to make it operate or of the drop-down menu which appears when a text file is open.
In such cases, it seems to me that the criterion of originality is not met, since the different methods of implementing an idea are so limited that the idea and the expression become indissociable. If such a possibility was offered, it would have the consequence of conferring a monopoly on certain companies on the computer program market, thus significantly hampering creation and innovation on that market, which would run contrary to the objective of Directive 2001/29.’
C-393/09,  EUECJ C-393/09
Opinion – Bezpecnostni Softwarova Asociace – Svaz Softwarove Ochrany ECJ 22-Dec-2010
ECJ Intellectual property – Directive 91/250/EEC – Legal protection of computer programs – Notion of ‘expression in any form of a computer program’ – Inclusion or non-inclusion of a program’s graphic user . .
Cited – SAS Institute Inc v World Programming Ltd CA 21-Nov-2013
The court was asked as to the extent to which the developer of a computer program may lawfully replicate the functions of an existing computer program; and the materials that he may lawfully use for that purpose. SAS had produced a computer software . .
These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 28 February 2021; Ref: scu.425278