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Com-Share, Inc. v. Computer Complex, Inc., 338 F. Supp. 1229 (E.D. Mich. 1971) (full-text).

Factual Background[]

Plaintiff developed a time-sharing operating system, together with a high-level programming language and text editor.

Trial Court Proceedings[]

After holding that this software was based upon "new principles and concepts with unique engineering, logic and coherence," the court dealt with defendant's claim that the software was not secret or new, but in the public domain:

[T]he existing software systems which are unique in the computer time sharing industry all contain certain elements which perform similar functions and many utilize certain similar fundamental concepts, and in the most general sense, a common base. Such is common in all engineering. Thus, the concept of vehicular locomotion, involving in one aspect, the basic principles of the internal combustion engine, is common to snowmobiles, ships, airplanes, and automobiles. But there the similarity stops. The varying systems, as patent lawyers so eloquently demonstrate, differ greatly in the steps taken to accomplish the objective. Similarly here. The specific engineering of these software systems, and their particular underlying technologies and design, together with what has been referred to as their “logic and coherence”, as well as their speed, accuracy, cost and commercial feasibility, may differ greatly from system to system. They will and do inevitably reflect the peculiar and unique accomplishments and technical skills of the developers thereof. This, in a nutshell, is what the software systems developed by the plaintiff supplies to the defendant under the Technical Exchange Agreement. And while it is true that defendant may have made certain technical changes in software supplied to it by plaintiff under the Technical Exchange Agreement, the defendant did not alter the unique principles, engineering logic, and coherence developed by plaintiff into such software system.[1]


  1. Id. at 1234.