December 14, 1989: Xerox Sues Apple

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacBytes, Dec 14, 2006.

  1. MacBytes macrumors bot

    Jul 5, 2003
  2. autrefois macrumors 65816


    Oct 22, 2003
    Somewhere in the USA
  3. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Aug 2, 2004
    Xerox didn't stop after the Apple suit, they tried suing other companies that used GUI elements similar to what Xerox had been working on.

    One such suit was against Silicon Graphics for the use of multiple desktops. While Xerox lost the suit in the end, they were able to force Silicon Graphics to disable multiple desktops in IRIX 5.3 (a patch in 1996, after the suit, re-enabled the feature).

    Apple wasn't forced to cripple any of their software during the trial against Xerox.
  4. SPUY767 macrumors 68000


    Jun 22, 2003
    Yes, but having a relative who worked at PARC in the late 70's and early 80's, he says that what XEROX was working on was nothing like what apple eventually ended up having. He says that xerox's GUI lacked any personality and human feel. Those two things are what apple excels in emparting on their products.
  5. MacQuest macrumors 6502a

    Jan 18, 2003
    You See Dead People...
    Yup. Having been a former multi-platform network administrator for Xerox myself here in Southern California, and having been trained at XDU [Xerox Document University] in Leesburg Virginia, I had the opportunity to train under some professors at XDU who had been with Xerox since the early/mid-70's and early 80's who all basically said the same thing:

    Xerox didn't care about patenting the mouse and GUI because they didn't see how those things could make their copiers any better. :rolleyes:

    It would be a VERY different world, a Xerox run world, if anyone at Xerox PARC would have had just a little bit more foresight and patented their work.
  6. Squareball macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2004
    Palo Alto, CA
    The other reason it was so different is because the Apple engineers came back to Cupertino and thought they had seen things they hadn't such as windows overlapping. They coded on it for days on end trying to reproduce what they thought they saw. If they wanted to give up Steve would bark at them "XEROX can do it, why can't you!?".
  7. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    I'm sure Xerox patented a lot of the work that came out of PARC, but it isn't clear to me that they could have made patents on such things as a GUI and a mouse stick, as much of the basic research on both came from elsewhere. They didn't own much if any of the prior art. Where Xerox really flubbed IMO was in not developing a commercial product based on the concepts created in their own labs. The Alto was strictly experimental, and the Star was crippled and stillborn. I don't blame the big brains at PARC for this (a lot of them ended up at Apple and Microsoft), but rather the little brains in management who couldn't see what they had.
  8. MacQuest macrumors 6502a

    Jan 18, 2003
    You See Dead People...
    Ok. I really don't know much about the patent process, so I may have just gotten a summation from those profesors indicating that they should have "protected themselves somehow."

    I probably just got the word "patent" thrown at me to indicate that.

    That is kind of what I, and they [Xerox professors], meant. By Xerox not looking beyond copiers, they didn't utilize some obviously very useful technology that they themselves had developed simply because it didn't apply to their existing market.

    Point being, they should have looked for opportunities in new markets which is why they patent everything possible nowadays.

  9. mainstreetmark macrumors 68020


    May 7, 2003
    Saint Augustine, FL
    This was also my favorite headline of perhaps the last 20 years.

    "Xerox sues someone for copying"
  10. SkyBell macrumors 604


    Sep 7, 2006
    Texas, unfortunately.
  11. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
    Didn't Apple license some of the stuff from Xerox? And it's not like they snuck in, Xerox let them look at something they had no intention of using with full permission. Most of which Apple was already doing (as said, some of this stuff already existed, just that most of it wasn't being used in any actual shipping product) or didn't even wind up using themselves. Then hired away some of the left over people who actually did want to develop the product. Had Xerox pursued this, they might have had a case. Patents notwithstanding.

    Of course, people seem to think this is the same situation with MS. But Billy-boy scammed his way into Apple and completely ripped off their shipping product and called it his own. But then, they were dumb enough to trust him by signing an agreement with him making the whole thing nice and legal. Not so ethical, just one in a long line of what they did to get ahead, but apparently legal. Apple should have covered their butts better.
  12. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    As late as 1993, they were using their own GUI on x86 PCs to create forms for their printers and while I was investigating their printers for my company, I had a chance to use it. It wasn't bad but it didn't seem to have been updated past the early 1980s.

    It's a shame that they didn't figure out how to capitalise on it with patents. Obviously, management had no clue. They still don't. When I had discussed the cost of the printer with the sales people and they were charging $0.01 per page, their prospects went downhill.

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