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Non-Traditional Subject Matter
Throughout the course we'll be reading about more traditional copyright subject matter, such as music, movies, and written work. However, as noted in 17 U.S.C 102, those only constitute a subset of materials that are eligible for copyright protection. This playlist presents cases about some of the more obscure protectable works.
  • 1 Architecture

    • 1.1 Intervest Construction v. Canterbury Estate Homes, 554 F.3d 914 (CA11 2008)

      1

      554 F.3d 914

      2
      INTERVEST CONSTRUCTION, INC., a Florida corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant,
      v.
      CANTERBURY ESTATE HOMES, INC., a Florida corporation, Defendant-Appellee.
      3

      No. 07-12596.
      United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.
      December 22, 2008.

      4

      [916] Kelly J.H. Garcia and Virginia Bullerman Townes, Akerman Senterfitt, Orlando, FL, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

      5

      Sidney M. Nowell, Nowell & Associates, P.A., Bunnell, FL, for Defendant-Appellee.

      6

      Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

      7

      Before BIRCH and DUBINA, Circuit Judges, and GOLDBERG,[*] Judge.

      8

      BIRCH, Circuit Judge:

      9

      In this copyright infringement action the appellant contends that the district court erred when it examined the two floor-plans at issue, and, emphasizing the differences between the two, concluded "that, as a matter of law, no reasonable fact-finder could conclude" that appellant's floor-plan ("The Kensington") was substantially similar to appellee's floor-plan ("The Westminister"). More specifically, appellant ("Intervest") argues that the district court employed a "heightened 'substantial similarly' standard" by itself focusing upon certain dissimilarities between the two floor-plans at issue,[1] based upon a misinterpretation of Howard v. Sterchi, 974 F.2d 1272 (11th Cir.1992). For the reasons that follow we find no error and AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

      10
      I. BACKGROUND
      11

      In point of time, the floor plan for The Westminster was created in 1992 as a work-made-for-hire by Intervest Construction, Inc. ("Intervest"). The putatively infringing floor-plan, The Kensington, was created in 2002 by Canterbury Estate Homes, Inc. ("Canterbury"). Each floor-plan depicts a four-bedroom house, with one bedroom being denominated as a "master" bedroom or suite. Each floor plan includes a: two-car garage; living room; dining room; "family" room; foyer; "master" bathroom; kitchen; second bathroom; nook; and porch/patio. Each floorplan also reflects certain "elements" common to most houses: doors; windows; walls; bathroom fixtures (toilet, tub, shower, and sink); kitchen fixtures (sink, counter, refrigerator, stovetop, and pantry/cabinets); utility rooms and fixtures (washer, dryer, and sink); and closets. A cursory examination of the two floor-plans reveals that the square footage of both is approximately the same. Also, as is common to houses, there are placements of entrances, exits, hallways, openings, and utilities (furnace, air conditioner, hot water heater, and telephone hardware).

      12

      After identifying all of these unassigned components and elements of the floor-plans, the district court undertook a careful comparative analysis of the selection, coordination, and arrangement of these common components and elements. The district court focused upon the dissimilarities in such coordination and arrangement:

      13

      First, Canterbury represents that the square footage of the rooms in the two [917] designs is different, and visual examination of the floor plans appears to confirm that. In any event, Intervest seemingly does not contest the point.

      Second, the garage in The Westminster has a front entrance, while The Kensington's has a side entrance. Further, Intervest's design has an attic access from the garage, while Canterbury's version has a "bonus room" above the garage, something The Westminster lacks entirely. Moreover, the inside air conditioning unit and water heater are placed differently in the two floor plans. Additionally, The Kensington has two windows in the garage, while The Westminster has none. In The Westminster, there is a bedroom closet to the left of the utility room, whereas in The Kensington, there is a hallway in that location.

      There are three bedrooms on the left side of the two designs, with a master bedroom across the house on the right side. (Confusingly, The Kensington drawing identifies the bedroom closest to the garage and the one farthest from the garage as "Bedroom 3.") There are significant differences between the left-side bedrooms in the two drawings.

      The bedroom closest to the garage ("Bedroom 2" in The Westminster and one of two "Bedroom 3"'s in The Kensington) is shaped differently in the two designs. In The Westminster, this room's longest wall abuts the garage, whereas in The Kensington, a shorter wall separates the room from the garage. Additionally, in The Westminster, one would enter this particular room straight through a door at the end of a hallway, whereas in The Kensington, one would have to turn 90 degrees off the hallway to enter the room. Additionally, the entrance doors swing in opposite directions in the two designs. Moreover, the closets in this bedroom are situated on completely different walls in the two drawings.

      Regarding the middle bedroom on the left side ("Bedroom 3" in The Westminster and "Bedroom 2" in The Kensington), the entrances and closets are different in the two floor plans. The closet in The Westminster runs nearly the length of one wall, while the closet in The Kensington is deeper, smaller, and occupies only a corner of the bedroom. The room in The Westminster has a 45 degree entrance, beyond which is an angled wall (followed by the aforementioned long closet). The Kensington's counterpart room has a 90 degree entrance which opens flush against a 90 degree wall. Finally, the bedroom in The Westminster appears more rectangular overall than its counterpart in The Kensington.

      Moving to the last left-side bedroom ("Bedroom 4" in The Westminster and the other "Bedroom 3" in The Kensington), the same differences identified regarding the preceding bedroom also exist regarding this room, except that the smaller closet in The Kensington is located near the room's entrance, rather than in a corner.

      The hallway bathroom situated next to this bedroom is also different in the two designs. The bathroom in The Westminster appears larger. Additionally, the alignment of the right wall vis-a-vis the hallway wall is different in the two plans. Further, "the bathtubs face opposite ways in the two designs," "the bathroom sink counter space in [The Kensington] is much smaller than in [The Westminster]," and "[The Kensington's] sink is oval shaped whereas [The Westminster's] is round." Doc. 50 at 16. Finally, although the bathroom door leading to the exterior of the house swings in the same direction in both [918] plans, Canterbury notes that this is required by the fire code.

      Proceeding to the center portion of the homes, the nooks in the two plans are markedly different. In that regard,

      [The Westminster's] nook feeds into a ninety degree angle adjacent to the Porch and has windows looking both to the outside and to the Porch. On the other hand, [The Kensington's] design is rounded into the porch and is completely made of glass. There is no window to the outside or into the Covered Patio. Moreover, the entrance from the Nook into the Living Room in [The Westminster's] design has an elongated wall which travels much further into the Living Room than in [The Kensington's] design, and also fails to break inward at a ninety degree angle like in [The Kensington's] design.

      14

      Id. at 17. Further, the shapes of the living rooms are different, in part due to the dissimilarities in the layout of the nooks.

      15

      The kitchens in the two plans are also substantially different. In that connection,

      16

      the wall placement in the southeast corner of the kitchens is significantly different. [The Kensington's] design pushes this wall further into the Living Room and pushes the Kitchen Counter much further north than in [The Westminster's] design. This allows [The Kensington's] design to have a much larger Pantry than [The Westminster's] design.

      [Further, The Westminster's] design has a retractable door on its pantry which opens at a ninety degree angle while [The Kensington's] has a solid door which opens at a forty-five degree angle. Additionally, . . . [The Kensington's] kitchen counter is much thinner and longer than [The Westminster's] which places the dishwasher in a different location. Finally, . . . [The Kensington's] Kitchen has an Island as well as an entrance to a hallway running down the left side of the Utility Room while [The Westminster's] design has none of these features.

      17

      Id. at 17-18.

      18

      Moving to the right side of the house, there are material dissimilarities in the foyer, the master bedroom, and the master bath. The front entrance to The Westminster "has one solid door with windows on either side while [The Kensington's] front entrance has a pair of glass French Doors." Id. at 18. Further, "the Master Bedroom in [The Kensington's] design contains glass French Doors on the far left side of the back wall which opens into a Covered Patio," whereas The Westminster "simply has a sliding glass door in the center of the back wall which opens to an uncovered Porch." Id. Additionally, in The Kensington's master bath, "the doors to the walk-in closets . . . are solid and open in different directions than those [in the Westminster], which uses a retractable door." Id. Finally, the sinks in the master bath are placed differently in the two designs. In The Kensington, the sinks are centered; in The Westminster, they are not. R1-69 at 5-8. (footnotes omitted).

      19

      Given the number of dissimilarities in the respective coordination and arrangement of these non-original, commonplace elements and components, the district court ruled that no reasonable observer could conclude that the copyrightable elements of the two floor-plans were substantially similar. [919]

      20
      II. DISCUSSION
      21

      Since we are dealing with a specific type of copyrightable work, here an architectural work, we begin by examining the statutory definition of an "architectural work," to wit: "the design of a building as embodied in any tangible medium of expression, including a building, architectural plans or drawings. The work includes the overall form as well as the arrangement and composition of spaces and elements in the design, but does not include individual standard features." 17 U.S.C. § 101 (2008). A review of the legislative history discloses that such "individual standard features" include "common windows, doors, and other staple building components." H.R.Rep. No. 101-735 (1990) as reprinted in 1990 U.S.C.C.A.N. 6935, 6949. Including the phrase "the arrangement and composition of spaces and elements in the design" demonstrates Congress' appreciation that "creativity in architecture frequently takes the form of a selection, coordination, or arrangement of unprotectible elements into an original, protectible whole." Id. Accordingly, while individual standard features and architectural elements classifiable as ideas or concepts are not themselves copyrightable, an architect's original combination or arrangement of such elements may be. See Corwin v. Walt Disney Co., 475 F.3d 1239, 1251 (11th Cir.2007). Thus, the definition of an architectural work closely parallels that of a "compilation" under the statute, that is: "[A] work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship." 17 U.S.C. § 101. The Supreme Court in Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 U.S. 340, 111 S.Ct. 1282, 113 L.Ed.2d 358 (1991), and our court in BellSouth Adver. & Publ'g Corp. v. Donnelley Info. Publ'g, Inc., 999 F.2d 1436 (11th Cir.1993) (en banc) and Oravec v. Sunny Isles Luxury Ventures, L.C., 527 F.3d 1218 (11th Cir. 2008), indicated that the compiler's choices as to selection coordination, or arrangement are the only portions of a compilation, or here, architectural work, that are even entitled to copyright protection. Accordingly, any similarity comparison of the works at issue here must be accomplished at the level of protected expression[2] — that is, the arrangement and coordination of those common elements ("selected" by the market place, i.e., rooms, windows, doors, and "other staple building components"). In undertaking such a comparison it should be recalled that the copyright protection in a compilation is "thin." Feist, 499 U.S. at 349, 111 S.Ct. at 1289. Moreover, as the Second Circuit has noted, the substantial similarity inquiry is "narrowed" when dealing with a compilation. Key Publications, Inc. v. Chinatown Today Publ'g Enter., Inc., 945 F.2d 509, 514 (2d Cir.1991).

      22

      Thus, when viewed through the narrow lens of compilation analysis only the original, and thus protected arrangement and coordination of spaces, elements and other staple building components should be compared.[3] We have recognized [920] that summary judgment may be inappropriate in certain types of copyright infringement cases. However, we have approved the use of summary judgment particularly in cases where: (1) because access has been established, the crucial issue is substantial similarity; (2) there may be substantial similarity with respect to the non-copyrightable elements of the two works compared; and, (3) as to the protectable elements, there is substantial dissimilarity. See Oravec 527 F.3d at 1223; Beal v. Paramount Pictures, Corp. 20 F.3d 454, 459-60 (11th Cir.1994). In fact, when the crucial question in a dispute involving compilations is substantial similarity at the level of protectable expression, it is often more reliably and accurately resolved in a summary judgment proceeding. This is so because a judge is better able to separate original expression from the non-original elements of a work where the copying of the latter is not protectable and the copying of the former is protectable. The judge understands the concept of the idea/expression dichotomy and how it should be applied in the context of the works before him. As we have observed: "This distinction — known as the idea/expression dichotomy — can be difficult to apply, as there is no bright line separating the ideas conveyed by a work from the specific expression of those ideas." Oravec, 527 F.3d at 1224. Moreover, in examining compilations wherein only the arrangement and coordination of elements which by the nature of the work (here architectural floor plans) are sure to be common to each of the works and are not copyrightable themselves (spacial depictions of rooms, doors, windows, walls, etc.), the already difficult tasks may become even more nuanced. Because a judge will more readily understand that all copying is not infringement, particularly in the context of works that are compilations, the "substantial-similarity" test is more often correctly administered by a judge rather than a jury — even one provided proper instruction. The reason for this is plain — the ability to separate protectable expression from non-protectable expression is, in reality, a question of law or, at the very least, a mixed question of law and fact. It is difficult for a juror, even properly instructed, to conclude, after looking at two works, that there is no infringement where, say, 90% of one is a copy of the other, but only 15% of the work is protectable expression that has not been copied. Part of the problem, which we have recognized, is that the term "substantial similarity" has not always been used with precision. Beal, 20 F.3d at 459 n. 4. When courts have dealt with copyright infringement claims involving creative types of works, "substantial similarity" has been defined as existing "where an average lay observer would recognize the alleged copy as having been appropriated from the copyrighted work." Original Appalachian Artworks, Inc. v. Toy Loft, Inc., 684 F.2d 821, 829 (11th Cir.1982) (quotation marks and citation omitted) (the first copyright case decided by the Eleventh Circuit after its split-off [921] from the "old" Fifth Circuit involving a soft sculpture doll, a creative work that was to be later known as a "Cabbage Patch Kid"). However, as noted above, while a creative work is entitled to the most protection, a compilation is entitled to the least, narrowest or "thinnest" protection. See Suntrust Bank v. Houghton Mifflin Co., 268 F.3d 1257, 1271 (11th Cir. 2001); see also Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. 510 U.S. 569, 586, 114 S.Ct. 1164, 1175, 127 L.Ed.2d 500 (1994); Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises, 471 U.S. 539, 563, 105 S.Ct. 2218, 2232, 85 L.Ed.2d 588 (1985). Accordingly, when courts have examined copyright infringement claims involving compilations the definition of "substantial similarity" has been appropriately modified to accentuate the narrower scope of protection available, to wit:

      23

      Not all copying constitutes infringement, however, see Feist, 499 U.S. at 361, 111 S.Ct. at 1296, and therefore we have emphasized that the substantial similarity analysis "must focus on similarity of expression, i.e., material susceptible of copyright protection." Beal, 20 F.3d at 459, n. 4; see also Leigh [v. Warner Bros., Inc., 212 F.3d 1210] at 1214 (stating that a copyright plaintiff "must establish specifically that the allegedly infringing work is substantially similar to the plaintiff's work with regard to its protected elements").

      24

      Oravec, 527 F.3d at 1224 (emphasis in original) (involving a dispute over architectural plans); see also BellSouth, 999 F.2d 1436 (telephone directories); Warren Publ'g Inc., 115 F.3d 1509 (cable television fact books); Bateman v. Mnemonics, Inc., 79 F.3d 1532 (11th Cir.1996) (computer code); MiTek Holdings, Inc. v. Arce Eng'g, Inc., 89 F.3d 1548 (11th Cir.1996) (computer code); Leigh, 212 F.3d 1210 (photographs).

      25

      Here the district court carefully compared the protectable aspects of the two floor-plans at issue, thus focusing only on the narrow arrangement and coordination of otherwise standard architectural features. At the conclusion of its analysis identifying many dissimilarities or differences in the two floor plans, the court made essentially the same ruling that we approved of in Oravec: "At the level of protected expression, the differences between the designs are so significant that no reasonable, properly instructed jury could find the works substantially similar." Oravec, 527 F.3d at 1227.

      26
      III. CONCLUSION
      27

      Here the appellant, plaintiff below, contends that the district court erred in focusing its comparison of common architectural elements in two designs for a four-bedroom house on the dissimilarities between the two floor plans. Given that the plans at issue were protected by compilation copyrights which were "thin," the district court correctly determined that the differences in the protectable expression were so significant that, as a matter of law, no reasonable properly-instructed jury of lay observers could find the works substantially similar. Accordingly, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the appellee, the putative infringer.

      28

      AFFIRMED. [922]

      29
      APPENDIX
      30

      NOTE: OPINION CONTAINING TABLE OR OTHER DATA THAT IS NOT VIEWABLE

      31

      [*] Honorable Richard W. Goldberg, United States Court of International Trade Judge, sitting by designation.

      32

      [1] The two floor-plans at issue are attached hereto as an appendix.

      33

      [2] The Feist Court further explained:

      34

      This protection is subject to an important limitation. The mere fact that a work is copyrighted does not mean that every element of the work may be protected. Originality remains the sine qua non of copyright: accordingly, copyright protection may extend only to those components of a work that are original to the author.

      35

      Feist at 348, 111. S.Ct. at 1289.

      36

      [3] There are three types of work that are entitled to copyright protection—creative, derivative, and compiled. Copyrights in these three distinct works are known as creative, derivative, and compilation copyrights. An example of a creative work is a novel. An example of a derivative work is a screenplay based on a novel; it is called "derivative" because it is based on a preexisting work that has been recast, transformed, or adapted. An example of a compilation is [the floor plans at issue in this case.] The [Copyright] Act has created a hierarchy in terms of the protection afforded to these different types of copyrights. A creative work is entitled to the most protection, followed by a derivative work, and finally by a compilation. This is why the Feist Court emphasized that the copyright protection in a factual compilation is "thin."

      37

      Warren Publishing, Inc. v. Microdos Data Corp., 115 F.3d 1509, 1515 n. 16 (11th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted).

    • 1.2 "The Westminster," Intervest Construction, Inc. (1992)

    • 1.3 "The Kensington," Canterbury Estate Homes, Inc. (2002)

  • 2 Useful Articles

    • 2.1 Pivot Point, Int'l v. Charlene Products, 372 F.3d 913 (7th Cir. 2004)

      1

      372 F.3d 913

      2
      PIVOT POINT INTERNATIONAL, INCORPORATED, Plaintiff-Appellant, Cross-Appellee,
      v.
      CHARLENE PRODUCTS, INCORPORATED and Peter Yau, Defendants-Appellees, Cross-Appellants.
      3

      No. 01-3888.
      No. 02-1152.
      United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.
      Argued June 6, 2003.
      Decided June 25, 2004.
      Rehearing En Banc Denied August 10, 2004.[1]

      4

      [915] Robert E. Browne (Argued), Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff-Appellant, Cross-Appellee.

      5

      James B. Meyer (Argued), Meyer & Wyatt, Gary, IN, Martin H. Redish (Argued), Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, Chicago, IL, for Defendants-Appellees, Cross-Appellants.

      6

      Before RIPPLE, KANNE and DIANE P. WOOD, Circuit Judges.

      7

      RIPPLE, Circuit Judge. Pivot Point International, Inc. ("Pivot Point"), brought this cause of action against Charlene Products, Inc., and its president Peter Yau (collectively "Charlene"), for copyright infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 501(b). The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants on the ground that the copied subject matter, a mannequin head, was not copyrightable under the Copyright Act of 1976 ("1976 Act"), 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. For the reasons set forth in the following opinion, we reverse the judgment of the district court and remand the case for proceedings consistent with this opinion. 

      8
      I. BACKGROUND
      9
      A. Facts
      10

      Pivot Point develops and markets educational techniques and tools for the hair design industry. It was founded in 1965 by Leo Passage, an internationally renowned hair designer. One aspect of Pivot Point's business is the design and development of mannequin heads, "slip-ons" (facial forms that slip over a mannequin head) and component hair pieces.

      11

      In the mid-1980s, Passage desired to develop a mannequin that would imitate the "hungry look" of high-fashion, runway models. Passage believed that such a mannequin could be marketed as a premium item to cutting-edge hair-stylists and to stylists involved in hair design competitions. Passage then worked with a German artist named Horst Heerlein to create an original sculpture of a female human head. Although Passage discussed his vision with Heerlein, Passage did not give Heerlein any specific dimensional requirements. From Passage's description, Heerlein created a sculpture in plaster entitled "Mara."

      12

      Wax molds of Mara were made and sent to Pivot Point's manufacturer in Hong Kong. The manufacturer created exact reproductions of Mara in polyvinyl chloride ("PVC"). The manufacturer filled the PVC form with a liquid that expands and hardens into foam. The process of creating the Mara sculpture and of developing the mannequin based on the sculpture took approximately eighteen months.

      13

      In February of 1988, when Pivot Point first inspected the PVC forms of Mara, it discovered that the mannequin's hairline had been etched too high on the forehead. The manufacturer corrected the mistake by adding a second, lower hairline. Although the first, higher hairline was visible upon inspection, it was covered with implanted hair. The early PVC reproductions of Mara, and Pivot Point's first shipment of the mannequins in May of 1988, possessed the double hairlines.

      14

      About the same time that it received its first shipment of mannequins, Pivot Point obtained a copyright registration for the design of Mara, specifically the bareheaded female human head with no makeup or hair. Heerlein assigned all of his rights in the Mara sculpture to Pivot Point. Pivot Point displayed the copyright notice in the name of Pivot Point on each mannequin.

      15

      Pivot Point enjoyed great success with its new mannequin. To respond to customer demand, Pivot Point began marketing the Mara mannequin with different types and lengths of hair, different skin [916] tones and variations in makeup; however, no alterations were made to the facial features of the mannequin. For customer ease in identification, Pivot Point changed the name of the mannequin based on its hair and skin color; for instance, a Mara mannequin implanted with yak hair was called "Sonja," and the Mara mannequin implanted with blonde hair was called "Karin."

      16

      At a trade show in 1989, Charlene, a wholesaler of beauty products founded by Mr. Yau,[2] displayed its own "Liza" mannequin, which was very close in appearance to Pivot Point's Mara. In addition to the strikingly similar facial features, Liza also exhibited a double hairline that the early Mara mannequins possessed.

      17

      On September 24, 1989, Pivot Point noticed Charlene for copyright infringement. When Charlene refused to stop importing and selling the Liza mannequin, Pivot Point filed this action.[3]

      18
      B. District Court Proceedings
      19

      Pivot Point filed a multi-count complaint in district court against Charlene. It alleged violations of federal copyright law as well as state-law claims; Charlene both answered the complaint and counterclaimed. After extensive discovery, Pivot Point filed a comprehensive motion for summary judgment on its complaint and Charlene's counterclaims. Charlene filed several cross-motions for summary judgment as well. The district court tentatively ruled on these motions in July 2001 and issued a final ruling in October 2001.

      20
      1. Merits
      21

      In its opinion, the district court stated that "[t]he principal dispute is whether a human mannequin head is copyrightable subject matter. If it is, then there must be a trial on the question whether Liza is a knock off of Mara." R.401 at 1. The district court explained that, although sculptural works are copyrightable under 17 U.S.C. § 102(a)(5), sculptures that may be copyrighted are limited by the language of 17 U.S.C. § 101, which provides in relevant part:

      22

      Such works shall include works of artistic craftsmanship insofar as their form but not their mechanical or utilitarian aspects are concerned; the design of a useful article, as defined in this section, shall be considered a pictorial, graphic or sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.

      23

      According to the district court, there was no question that Mara was a sculpture. However, in the district court's view, the sculpture served utilitarian ends. "Students in beauty schools practice styling hair on Mara's head and may practice other skills by applying makeup to Mara's eyes, lips, and cheeks. The parties dispute which functions are primary." R.401 at 2.

      24

      The district court then explored whether the artistic and utilitarian aspects of Mara were "separable" for purposes of the piece's copyrightability: "The statutory separability requirement confines copyright protection to those aspects of the design that exist apart from its utilitarian value, and that could be removed without reducing the usefulness of the item." Id. at 3. The district court observed that [917] drawing this line is particularly troublesome.

      25

      The statute, continued the district court, is generally recognized to suggest two types of separability: physical separability and conceptual separability. The district court explained that physical separability occurs when the ornamental nature of the object can be physically removed from the object and that

      26

      [c]onceptual separability differs from physical separability by asking not whether the features to be copyrighted could be sliced off for separate display, but whether one can conceive of this process. Relying on a comment in the House Report on the 1976 amendments, the second circuit in Kieselstein-Cord [v. Accessories by Pearl, Inc., 632 F.2d 989 (2d Cir.1980),] purported to adopt conceptual separability as the exclusive test (632 F.2d at 992, contrasting that approach with Esquire [v. Ringer, 591 F.2d 796 (D.C.Cir.1978)], which opted for physical separability, 591 F.2d at 803-04). Why a court should repair to the legislative history is unclear; the second circuit did not identify any ambiguity in § 101 that needed to be resolved, and a statement in the House Report that what appears on the face of the statutory text to be two requirements (physical and conceptual separability) should be administered as just one is not a proposition that in today's legal climate can be indulged. The Supreme Court does not permit the use of legislative history to alter, as opposed to elucidate, a statutory text.

      27

      Id. at 4.

      28

      Despite this lack of statutory moorings, the district court nevertheless reviewed the differing formulations for conceptual separability and determined that the definition proposed by Professor Paul Goldstein was the best one: "a pictorial, graphic or sculptural feature incorporated in the design of a useful article is conceptually separable if it can stand on its own as work of art traditionally conceived, and if the useful article in which it is embodied would be equally useful without it." R.401 at 5 (quoting 1 Paul Goldstein, Copyright: Principles, Law & Practice § 2.5.3, at 109 (1989)). The district court believed that the strength of this definition "comes from the fact that it differs little, if at all, from the test of physical separability embraced by the D.C. Circuit in Esquire and by the majority in Carol Barnhart [Inc., v. Economy Cover Corp., 773 F.2d 411, 418 (2d Cir.1985)]." Id. Applying this test led the district court to conclude that

      29

      Mara cannot be copyrighted because, even though one can conceive of Mara as a sculpture displayed as art, it would not be equally useful if the features that Pivot Point want to copyright were removed. So long as a utilitarian function is makeup tutoring and practice and the fact that Pivot Points sells Mara without eye or lip coloring shows that this is a function even if not, in Pivot Point's view, the "primary" one — the utilitarian value would be diminished by removing the aesthetic features that Pivot Point wants to protect by copyright.

      30

      Id.

      31

      As a final matter, the district court distinguished two cases, Hart v. Dan Chase Taxidermy Supply Co., 86 F.3d 320 (2d Cir.1996), and Superior Form Builders, Inc. v. Dan Chase Taxidermy Supply Co., Inc., 74 F.3d 488 (4th Cir.1996), which upheld the copyrightability of animal and fish mannequins. The district court found the Hart case unpersuasive, but concluded that "one cannot say of Mara what the fourth circuit said of animal mannequins: Mara is valued not for 'its own appearance' but for what it enables students to do and learn. Mara is a 'useful article' as § 101 and Superior Form Builders deploy that term." Id. at 6.

      32
      2. Fee Petition
      33

      [918] Although fees are available under the 1976 Act, the district court's order made no provision for fees. Charlene, therefore, sought an award of attorneys' fees of approximately $421,915 pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505. Charlene submitted its fees to Pivot Point and sought to confer and exchange information as required by Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 54.3(d). Pivot Point would not participate in this exercise on the basis that any fee request would be untimely because Charlene had missed the fourteen-day deadline for filing a fee motion set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(2)(B).

      34

      Charlene then moved for an instruction from the district court ordering Pivot Point to participate in the fee request process but the district court refused. It explained that its "opinion and declaratory judgment resolving this case on the merits did not make any provision for attorneys' fees." R.413 at 1. Because the judgment did not contain an order with respect to an attorneys' fee petition, the district court did not believe Local Rule 54.3 was applicable. Instead, the parties were bound by the fourteen-day deadline set forth in Federal Rule 54(d)(2)(B). Furthermore, the district court believed that its reading of Local Rule 54.3 — as not extending the time period allowed in Federal Rule 54 — saved the local rule because otherwise it would be inconsistent with Federal Rule 54 and therefore invalid pursuant to Federal Rule 83.[4]

      35

      Finally, the district court acknowledged that it had the discretion to extend the time to file such a motion; however, it stated that it was "not even slightly disposed to grant any [extension], because the parties knew well before October 2 what the judgment was likely to provide." Id. at 1.

      36

      Pivot Point now appeals from the district court's summary judgment in favor of Charlene; Charlene appeals from the district court's judgment with respect to its attorneys' fee petition.

      37
      II. ANALYSIS
      38
      A. Standard of Review
      39

      This court reviews de novo a district court's grant of summary judgment. See Silk v. City of Chicago, 194 F.3d 788, 798 (7th Cir.1999). In evaluating the judgment, we "construe all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable and justifiable inferences in favor of that party." Bellaver v. Quanex Corp., 200 F.3d 485, 491-92 (7th Cir.2000). If the record shows "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law," summary judgment is appropriate. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).

      40
      B. Copyrightability
      41

      [919] The central issue in this case is whether the Mara mannequin is subject to copyright protection. This issue presents, at bottom, a question of statutory interpretation. We therefore begin our analysis with the language of the statute. Two provisions contained in 17 U.S.C. § 101 are at the center of our inquiry. The first of these is the description of pictorial, graphic and sculptural works:

      42

      Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works" include two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art, photographs, prints and art reproductions, maps, globes, charts, diagrams, models, and technical drawings, including architectural plans. Such works shall include works of artistic craftsmanship insofar as their form but not their mechanical or utilitarian aspects are concerned; the design of a useful article, as defined in this section, shall be considered a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.

      43

      The definition section further provides that "[a] 'useful article' is an article having an intrinsic utilitarian function that is not merely to portray the appearance of the article or to convey information. An article that is normally a part of a useful article is considered a 'useful article.'" 17 U.S.C. § 101. As is clear from the definition of pictorial, graphic and sculptural work, only "useful article[s]," as the term is further defined, are subject to the limitation contained in the emphasized language above. If an article is not "useful" as the term is defined in § 101, then it is a pictorial, graphic and sculptural work entitled to copyright protection (assuming the other requirements of the statute are met).

      44
      1. Usefulness
      45

      Pivot Point submits that the Mara mannequin is not a "useful article" for purposes of § 101 because its "inherent nature is to portray the appearance of runway models. Its value," continues Pivot Point, "resides in how well it portrays the appearance of runway models, just as the value of a bust — depicting Cleopatra, for example, ... — would be in how well it approximates what one imagines the subject looked like." Appellant's Br. at 19. Pivot Point relies upon the decisions of the Fourth Circuit in Superior Form Builders and of the Second Circuit in Hart for the proposition that mannequins, albeit in those cases animal and fish mannequins, are not useful articles. Specifically, the Fourth Circuit explained that

      46

      [a] mannequin provides the creative form and expression of the ultimate animal display.... Even though covered with a skin, the mannequin is not invisible but conspicuous in the final display. The angle of the animal's head, the juxtaposition of its body parts, and the shape of the body parts in the final display is little more than the portrayal of the underlying mannequin. Indeed, the mannequin can even portray the intensity of flexed body parts, or it can reveal the grace of relaxed ones. None of these expressive aspects of a mannequin is lost by covering the mannequin with a skin. Thus, any utilitarian aspect of the mannequin exists "merely to portray the appearance" of the animal.

      47

      Superior Form Builders, 74 F.3d at 494; see also Hart, 86 F.3d at 323 ("The function of the fish form is to portray its own appearance, and that fact is enough to bring it within the scope of the Copyright Act."). Consequently, in Pivot Point's view, because the Mara mannequin performs functions similar to those of animal [920] and fish mannequins, it is not a useful article and is therefore entitled to full copyright protection.

      48

      Charlene presents us with a different view. It suggests that, unlike the animal mannequins at issue in Superior Form Builders and in Hart, the Mara mannequin does have a useful function other than portraying an image of a high-fashion runway model. According to Charlene, Mara also is marketed and used for practicing the art of makeup application. Charlene points to various places in the record that establish that Mara is used for this purpose and is, therefore, a useful article subject to the limiting language of § 101.

      49

      Pivot Point strongly disputes that the record establishes such a use and argues that the district court's reliance on Charlene's alleged proof improperly resolves an issue of fact against the non-moving party in contravention of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.[5] Indeed, our own review of the record leads us to believe that many of the documents cited by Charlene are susceptible to more than one interpretation.

      50

      Nevertheless, we shall assume that the district court correctly ruled that Mara is a useful article and proceed to examine whether, despite that usefulness, it is amenable to copyright protection.

      51
      2. Separability
      52

      We return to the statutory language. A useful article falls within the definition of pictorial, graphic or sculptural works "only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article." 17 U.S.C. § 101.[6] It is common [921] ground between the parties and, indeed, among the courts that have examined the issue, that this language, added by the 1976 Act, was intended to distinguish creative works that enjoy protection from elements of industrial design that do not. See H.R.Rep. No. 94-1476, at 55 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5659, 5668 (stating that the purpose behind this language was "to draw as clear a line as possible between copyrightable works of applied art and uncopyrighted works of industrial design"). Although the Congressional goal was evident, application of this language has presented the courts with significant difficulty. Indeed, one scholar has noted: "Of the many fine lines that run through the Copyright Act, none is more troublesome than the line between protectible pictorial, graphic and sculptural works and unprotectible utilitarian elements of industrial design." Paul Goldstein, 1 Copyright § 2.5.3, at 2:56 (2d ed.2004).

      53

      The difficulty in the application of this language would not have come, in all likelihood, as a surprise to the Congressional drafters. The language employed by Congress is not the language of a bright-line rule of universal application. Indeed, the circuits that have addressed the interpretative problem now before us uniformly have recognized that the wording of the statute does not supply categorical direction, but rather requires the Copyright Office and the courts "to continue their efforts to distinguish applied art and industrial design." Robert C. Denicola, Applied Art & Industrial Design: A Suggested Approach to Copyright in Useful Articles, 67 Minn. L.Rev. 707, 730 (1983). In short, no doubt well-aware of the myriad of factual scenarios to which its policy guidance would have to be applied, Congress wisely chose to provide only general policy guidance to be implemented on a case-by-case basis through the Copyright Office and the courts.

      54

      Even though the words of the statute do not yield a definitive answer, we believe that the statutory language nevertheless provides significant guidance in our task. We therefore shall examine in more detail what that language has to tell us, and we return to the necessary starting point of our task, § 101.

      55

      The statutory language provides that "the design of a useful article ... shall be considered a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article." Although the italicized clause contains two operative phrases — "can be identified separately from" and "are capable of existing independently of" — we believe, as have the other courts that have grappled with this issue,[7] that Congress, in amending the statute, intended these two phrases to state a single, integrated standard to determine when there is sufficient separateness between the utilitarian and artistic aspects of a work to justify copyright protection.

      56

      [922] Certainly, one approach to determine whether material can be "identified separately," and the most obvious, is to rely on the capacity of the artistic material to be severed physically from the industrial design. See Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 74 S.Ct. 460, 98 L.Ed. 630 (1954) (holding that a statuette incorporated into the base of a lamp is copyrightable). When a three-dimensional article is the focus of the inquiry, reliance on physical separability can no doubt be a helpful tool in ascertaining whether the artistic material in question can be separated from the industrial design. As Professor Denicola points out, however, such an approach really is not of much use when the item in question is two-dimensional. See Denicola, supra, at 744. Indeed, because this provision, by its very words, was intended to apply to two-dimensional material, it is clear that a physical separability test cannot be the exclusive test for determining copyrightability.

      57

      It seems to be common ground between the parties and, indeed, among the courts and commentators, that the protection of the copyright statute also can be secured when a conceptual separability exists between the material sought to be copyrighted and the utilitarian design in which that material is incorporated.[8] The [923] difficulty lies not in the acceptance of that proposition, which the statutory language clearly contemplates, but in its application. As noted by Pivot Point, the following tests have been suggested for determining when the artistic and utilitarian aspects of useful articles are conceptually separable: 1) the artistic features are "primary" and the utilitarian features "subsidiary," Kieselstein-Cord, 632 F.2d at 993; 2) the useful article "would still be marketable to some significant segment of the community simply because of its aesthetic qualities," Melville B. Nimmer & David Nimmer, 1 Nimmer on Copyright § 2.08[B][3], at 2-101 (2004); 3) the article "stimulate[s] in the mind of the beholder a concept that is separate from the concept evoked by its utilitarian function," Carol Barnhart, 773 F.2d at 422 (Newman, J., dissenting); 4) the artistic design was not significantly influenced by functional considerations, see Brandir Int'l, 834 F.2d at 1145 (adopting the test forwarded in Denicola, supra, at 741); 5) the artistic features "can stand alone as a work of art traditionally conceived, and ... the useful article in which it is embodied would be equally useful without it," Goldstein, 1 Copyright § 2.5.3, at 2:67; and 6) the artistic features are not utilitarian, see William F. Patry, 1 Copyright Law & Practice 285 (1994).

      58

      Pivot Point submits that "the test for conceptual separability should reflect the focus of copyright law — the artistic, not the marketability, design process, or usefulness." Appellant's Br. at 26. According to Pivot Point, the central inquiry is whether the article is a "'work of art.'" Id. Pivot Point further explains:

      59

      Conceptual separability would inhere in a "work of art" integrated into a useful article, or a "work of art" put to unexpected use, since the independent concepts of art and utility coexist. Conceptual separability would not exist in a useful article rendered simply aesthetically pleasing, since the independent concept of art does not exist, only the "artistic" embellishment to its utility, so that such "artistic" features are actually utilitarian. Should the "artistic" embellishment of utility reach the level of a "work of art," however, conceptual separability may exist.

      60

      Id. at 26-27. This test, Pivot Point suggests, has the additional benefit of "satisf[ying] most, if not all, of the current definitions of conceptual separability." Id. at 27.

      61

      Charlene, by contrast, lauds the district court's adoption of Professor Goldstein's test. "Under Goldstein's test," Charlene [924] asserts, "'a pictorial, graphic or sculptural feature incorporated in the design of a useful article is conceptually separable if it can stand on its own as a work of art traditionally conceived, and if the useful article in which it is embodied would be equally useful without it.'" Appellees' Br. at 26 (quoting R.401 at 5; emphasis added). Charlene contends that this approach mirrors that adopted by the majority in Carol Barnhart Inc. v. Economy Cover Corp., 773 F.2d 411 (2d Cir.1985), "the most closely related precedent to the case at bar." Appellees' Br. at 26.

      62

      Although both sides present thoughtful explanations for their proposed tests, we perceive shortcomings in the parties' choices. With respect to Pivot Point's focus on the article as a "work of art," it is certainly correct that Congress, in enacting § 101, attempted to separate the artistic from the utilitarian. However, this approach necessarily involves judges in a qualitative evaluation of artistic endeavors — a function for which judicial office is hardly a qualifier. With respect to the Charlene's approach, we believe that the test, at least when applied alone, is tied too closely to physical separability and, consequently, does not give a sufficiently wide berth to Congress' determination that artistic material conceptually separate from the utilitarian design can satisfy the statutory mandate.

      63

      In articulating a meaningful approach to conceptual separability, we note that we are not the first court of appeals to deal with this problem. The work of our colleagues in the other circuits provides significant insights into our understanding of Congressional intent. Indeed, even when those judges have disagreed on the appropriate application of the Congressional mandate to the case before them, their insight yield a bountiful harvest for those of us who now walk the same interpretative path.

      64

      Among the circuits, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has had occasion to wrestle most comprehensively with the notion of "conceptual separability." Its case law represents, we believe, an intellectual journey that has explored the key aspects of the problem. We therefore turn to a study of the key stages of doctrinal development in its case law.

      65
      a.
      66

      The Second Circuit first grappled with the issue of conceptual separability in Kieselstein-Cord v. Accessories by Pearl, Inc., 632 F.2d 989 (2d Cir.1980). In that case, Kieselstein-Cord, a jewelry designer, had created a line of decorative and jeweled belt buckles inspired by works of art; he obtained copyright registrations for his designs. When the line was successful, Accessories by Pearl, Inc., ("Pearl") copied the designs and marketed its own, less-expensive versions of the belt buckles. Kieselstein-Cord then sued Pearl for copyright infringement; however, Pearl claimed that the belt buckles were not copyrightable because they were "'useful articles' with no 'pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects' of the buckles." Id. at 991-92. The Second Circuit disagreed. Although it did not articulate a specific test for evaluating conceptual separability, it focused on the "primary" and "subsidiary" elements of the article and concluded:

      67

      We see in appellant's belt buckles conceptually separable sculptural elements, as apparently have the buckles' wearers who have used them as ornamentation for parts of the body other than the waist. The primary ornamental aspect of the Vaquero and Winchester buckles is conceptually separable from their subsidiary utilitarian function. This conclusion is not at variance with the [925] expressed congressional intent to distinguish copyrightable applied art and uncopyrightable industrial design. Pieces of applied art, these buckles may be considered jewelry, the form of which is subject to copyright protection.

      68

      Id. at 993 (internal citations omitted).[9]

      69
      b.
      70

      The Second Circuit revisited the issue of conceptual separability in Carol Barnhart Inc. v. Economy Cover Corp., 773 F.2d 411 (2d Cir.1985). In that case, Carol Barnhart, a provider of retail display items, developed four mannequins consisting of human torsos for the display of shirts and jackets. It obtained copyright registrations for each of the forms.[10] When a competitor, Economy Cover, copied the designs, Carol Barnhart claimed infringement of that copyright. The Second Circuit held that the designs were not copyrightable. It explained:

      71

      [W]hile copyright protection has increasingly been extended to cover articles having a utilitarian dimension, Congress has explicitly refused copyright protection for works of applied art or industrial design which have aesthetic or artistic features that cannot be identified separately from the useful article. Such works are not copyrightable regardless of the fact that they may be "aesthetically satisfying and valuable.

      72

      Applying these principles, we are persuaded that since the aesthetic and artistic features of the Barnhart forms are inseparable from the forms' use as utilitarian articles the forms are not copyrightable.... [Barnhart] stresses that the forms have been responded to as sculptural forms, and have been used for purposes other than modeling clothes, e.g., as decorating props and signs without any clothing or accessories. While this may indicate that the forms are "aesthetically satisfying and valuable," it is insufficient to show that the forms possess aesthetic or artistic features that are physically or conceptually separable from the forms' use as utilitarian objects to display clothes. On the contrary, to the extent the forms possess aesthetically pleasing features, even when these features are considered in the aggregate, they cannot be conceptualized as existing independently of their utilitarian function.

      73

      Id. at 418 (internal citations omitted). The court also rejected the argument that Kieselstein-Cord was controlling. The majority explained that what distinguished the Kieselstein-Cord buckles from the Barnhart forms was "that the ornamented surfaces of the buckles were not in any respect required by their functions; the artistic and aesthetic features would thus be conceived as having been added to, or superimposed upon, an otherwise utilitarian article." Id. at 419.

      74

      Perhaps the most theoretical and comprehensive discussion of "conceptual separability," as opposed to physical separability, can be found in the dissenting opinion of Judge Newman in Carol Barnhart, 773 F.2d at 419. After reviewing the possible ways to determine conceptual separability, Judge Newman set forth his choice and rationale:

      75

      How, then, is "conceptual separateness" to be determined? In my view, the answer derives from the word "conceptual." For the design features to be "conceptually separate" from the utilitarian [926] aspects of the useful article that embodies the design, the article must stimulate in the mind of the beholder a concept that is separate from the concept evoked by its utilitarian function. The test turns on what may reasonably be understood to be occurring in the mind of the beholder or, as some might say, in the "mind's eye" of the beholder....

      76

      The "separateness" of the utilitarian and non-utilitarian concepts engendered by an article's design is itself a perplexing concept. I think the requisite "separateness" exists whenever the design creates in the mind of the ordinary observer two different concepts that are not inevitably entertained simultaneously. Again, the example of the artistically designed chair displayed in a museum may be helpful. The ordinary observer can be expected to apprehend the design of a chair whenever the object is viewed. He may, in addition, entertain the concept of a work of art, but, if this second concept is engendered in the observer's mind simultaneously with the concept of the article's utilitarian function, the requisite "separateness" does not exist. The test is not whether the observer fails to recognize the object as a chair but only whether the concept of the utilitarian function can be displaced in the mind by some other concept. That does not occur, at least for the ordinary observer, when viewing even the most artistically designed chair. It may occur, however, when viewing some other object if the utilitarian function of the object is not perceived at all; it may also occur, even when the utilitarian function is perceived by observation, perhaps aided by explanation, if the concept of the utilitarian function can be displaced in the observer's mind while he entertains the separate concept of some non-utilitarian function. The separate concept will normally be that of a work of art.

      77

      Id. at 422-23.

      78
      c.
      79

      The Second Circuit soon addressed conceptual separability again in Brandir International, Inc. v. Cascade Pacific Lumber Co., 834 F.2d 1142 (2d Cir.1987). That case involved the work of an artist, David Levine; specifically, Levine had created a sculpture of thick, interwoven wire. A cyclist friend of Levine's realized that the sculpture could, with modification, function as a bicycle rack and thereafter put Levine in touch with Brandir International, Inc. ("Brandir"). The artist and the Brandir engineers then worked to modify the sculpture to produce a workable and marketable bicycle rack. Their work culminated in the "Ribbon Rack," which Brandir began marketing in 1979. Shortly thereafter, Cascade Pacific Lumber Co. ("Cascade") began selling a similar product, and, in response, Brandir applied for copyright protection and began placing copyright notices on its racks. The Copyright Office, however, rejected the registration on the ground that the rack did not contain any element that was "capable of independent existence as a copyrightable pictorial, graphic or sculptural work apart from the shape of the useful article." Id. at 1146.

      80

      The court first considered the possible tests for conceptual separability in light of its past decisions and, notably, attempted to reconcile its earlier attempts:

      81

      Perhaps the differences between the majority and the dissent in Carol Barnhart might have been resolved had they had before them the Denicola article on Applied Art and Industrial Design: A Suggested Approach to Copyright in Useful Articles, [67 Minn. L.Rev. 707 (1983)].... Denicola argues that "the statutory directive requires a distinction [927] between works of industrial design and works whose origins lie outside the design process, despite the utilitarian environment in which they appear." He views the statutory limitation of copyrightability as "an attempt to identify elements whose form and appearance reflect the unconstrained perspective of the artist," such features not being the product of industrial design. Id. at 742. "Copyrightability, therefore, should turn on the relationship between the proffered work and the process of industrial design." Id. at 741. He suggests that "the dominant characteristic of industrial design is the influence of nonaesthetic, utilitarian concerns" and hence concludes that copyrightability "ultimately should depend on the extent to which the work reflects artistic expression uninhibited by functional considerations." Id. To state the Denicola test in the language of conceptual separability, if design elements reflect a merger of aesthetic and functional considerations, the artistic aspects of a work cannot be said to be conceptually separable from the utilitarian elements. Conversely, where design elements can be identified as reflecting the designer's artistic judgment exercised independently of functional influences, conceptual separability exists.

      82

      We believe that Professor Denicola's approach provides the best test for conceptual separability and, accordingly, adopt it here for several reasons. First, the approach is consistent with the holdings of our previous cases. In Kieselstein-Cord, for example, the artistic aspects of the belt buckles reflected purely aesthetic choices, independent of the buckles' function, while in Carol Barnhart the distinctive features of the torsos — the accurate anatomical design and the sculpted shirts and collars — showed clearly the influence of functional concerns.... Second, the test's emphasis on the influence of utilitarian concerns in the design process may help ... "alleviate the de facto discrimination against nonrepresentational art that has regrettably accompanied much of the current analysis." Id. at 745.

      83

      Id. at 1145 (footnotes omitted).

      84

      Applying Professor Denicola's test to the Ribbon Rack, the court found that the rack was not copyrightable. The court stated that, "[h]ad Brandir merely adopted one of the existing sculptures as a bicycle rack, neither the application to a utilitarian end nor commercialization of that use would have caused the object to forfeit its copyrighted status." Id. at 1147. However, when the Ribbon Rack was compared to earlier sculptures, continued the court, it was "in its final form essentially a product of industrial design." Id.

      85

      In creating the RIBBON Rack, the designer ... clearly adapted the original aesthetic elements to accommodate and further a utilitarian purpose. These altered design features of the RIBBON Rack, including the spacesaving, open design achieved by widening the upper loops ..., the straightened vertical elements that allow in- and above-ground installation of the rack, the ability to fit all types of bicycles and mopeds, and the heavy-gauged tubular construction of rustproof galvanized steel, are all features that combine to make for a safe, secure, and maintenance-free system of parking bicycles and mopeds.

      86

      . . .

      87

      ... While the RIBBON Rack may be worthy of admiration for its aesthetic qualities alone, it remains nonetheless the product of industrial design. Form and function are inextricably intertwined in the rack, its ultimate design being as much the result of utilitarian pressures as aesthetic choices.... Thus there remains no artistic element of the RIBBON Rack that can be identified as [928] separate and "capable of existing independently, of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.

      88

      Id. at 1146-47.

      89
      d.
      90

      We believe that the experience of the Second Circuit is also reflected in the more recent encounter of the Fourth Circuit with the same problem. In Superior Form Builders, Inc. v. Dan Chase Taxidermy Supply Co., Inc., 74 F.3d 488 (4th Cir.1996), the court considered whether animal mannequins qualified for copyright protection. The Fourth Circuit first considered whether the mannequins were useful articles as defined by § 101 and concluded that they were not:

      91

      A mannequin provides the creative form and expression of the ultimate animal display.... Even though covered with a skin, the mannequin is not invisible but conspicuous in the final display. The angle of the animal's head, the juxtaposition of its body parts, and the shape of the body parts in the final display is little more than the portrayal of the underlying mannequin.... None of these expressive aspects of a mannequin is lost by covering the mannequin with a skin. Thus, any utilitarian aspect of the mannequin exists "merely to portray the appearance" of the animal. See 17 U.S.C. § 101.

      92

      ... It is the portrayal of the animal's body expression given by the mannequin that is thus protectable under the Copyright Act. We therefore agree with the district court in this case because "the usefulness of the forms is their portrayal of the appearance of animals." The mannequin forms "by definition are not useful articles.

      93

      Id. at 494 (quoting Superior Form Builders v. Dan Chase Taxidermy Supply Co., Inc., 851 F.Supp. 222, 223 (E.D.Va.1994)).

      94

      The court, however, also considered whether, if useful, the utilitarian and aesthetic aspects of the mannequin were separable:

      95

      To the extent that an argument can be made that the mannequins in this case perform a utilitarian function — other than portraying themselves — by supporting the mounted skins, we believe the function to be conceptually separable from the works' sculptural features. See Brandir Int'l, Inc. v. Cascade Pac. Lumber Co., 834 F.2d 1142, 1145 (2d Cir.1987) ("Where design elements can be identified as reflecting the designer's artistic judgment exercised independently of functional influences, conceptual separability exists."); Kieselstein-Cord v. Accessories by Pearl, Inc., 632 F.2d 989, 993 (2d Cir.1980) (finding sculptural element of belt buckle conceptually separable from utilitarian function).

      96

      Id. Thus, without specifically adopting one of the tests of conceptual separability, the Fourth Circuit determined that artistic work put into the design of the animal frame was copyrightable; the fact that a skin was placed on the model and that the model, therefore, was useful in the display of the skin did not negate the artistic elements of the design.[11]

      97
      e.
      98

      [929] There is one final Second Circuit case that bears comment. In Mattel, Inc. v. Goldberger Doll Manufacturing Co., 365 F.3d 133 (2d Cir.2004), the Second Circuit rejected the idea that a particular expression of features on a doll's face was not subject to copyright protection. The case arose out of the alleged copying of the facial features of Mattel's Barbie dolls by Goldberger Doll Manufacturing when creating its "Rockettes 2000" doll. On Goldberger's motion for summary judgment, the district court held that "copyright protection did not extend to Barbie's eyes, nose, and mouth ...." Id. at 134. The Second Circuit reversed. Although it did not speak specifically in terms of conceptual separability, the court's reasoning is nevertheless instructive; it stated:

      99

      The proposition that standard or common features are not protected is inconsistent with copyright law. To merit protection from copying, a work need not be particularly novel or unusual. It need only have been "independently created" by the author and possess "some minimal degree of creativity." Feist Publ'ns, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 345, 111 S.Ct. 1282, 113 L.Ed.2d 358 (1991).... There are innumerable ways of making upturned noses, bow lips, and widely spaced eyes. Even if the record had shown that many dolls possess upturned noses, bow lips, and wide-spread eyes, it would not follow that each such doll — assuming it was independently created and not copied from others — would not enjoy protection from copying.

      100

      Id. at 135 (footnotes and parallel citations omitted). Additionally, the court noted the scope of the copyright protection that the Barbie dolls enjoyed:

      101

      The copyright does not protect ideas; it protects only the author's particularized expression of the idea. Thus, Mattel's copyright in a doll visage with an upturned nose, bow lips, and widely spaced eyes will not prevent a competitor from making dolls with upturned noses, bow lips, and widely spaced eyes, even if the competitor has taken the idea from Mattel's example, so long as the competitor [930] has not copied Mattel's particularized expression. An upturned nose, bow lips, and wide eyes are the "idea" of a certain type of doll face. That idea belongs not to Mattel but to the public domain. But Mattel's copyright will protect its own particularized expression of that idea and bar a competitor from copying Mattel's realization of the Barbie features.

      102

      Id. at 136 (citations omitted).

      103
      C. Application
      104

      Each of these cases differs in the object at issue and the method by which the court evaluated whether the object was entitled to copyright protection. Yet, each court attempted to give effect to "the expressed congressional intent to distinguish copyrightable applied art and uncopyrightable industrial design." Kieselstein-Cord, 632 F.2d at 993; see also Carol Barnhart, 773 F.2d at 417-18 (reviewing legislative history in detail and concluding that, although "copyright protection has increasingly been extended to cover articles having a utilitarian dimension," Congress did not intend all useful articles that are "aesthetically satisfying or valuable" to be copyrightable); Brandir Int'l, 834 F.2d at 1145 (adopting Professor Denicola's test that makes copyrightability dependent upon "the extent to which the work reflects artistic expression uninhibited by functional considerations" (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)); Superior Form Builders, 74 F.3d at 494 (distinguishing the animal mannequins at issue from "aesthetically pleasing articles of industrial design").

      105

      The Second Circuit cases exhibit a progressive attempt to forge a workable judicial approach capable of giving meaning to the basic Congressional policy decision to distinguish applied art from uncopyrightable industrial art or design. In Kieselstein-Cord, the Second Circuit attempted to distinguish artistic expression from industrial design by focusing on the present use of the item, i.e., the "primary ornamental aspect" versus the "subsidiary utilitarian function" of the object at issue. 632 F.2d at 993. In Carol Barnhart, the Second Circuit moved closer to a process-oriented approach:

      106

      What distinguishes those [Kieselstein-Cord] buckles from the Barnhart forms is that the ornamented surfaces of the buckles were not in any respect required by their utilitarian functions; the artistic and aesthetic features could thus be conceived of as having been added to, or superimposed upon, an otherwise utilitarian article. The unique artistic design was wholly unnecessary to performance of the utilitarian function. In the case of the Barnhart forms, on the other hand, the features claimed to be aesthetic or artistic, e.g., the life-size configuration of the breasts and the width of the shoulders, are inextricably intertwined with the utilitarian feature, the display of clothes. Whereas a model of a human torso, in order to serve its utilitarian function, must have some configuration of the chest and some width of shoulders, a belt buckle can serve its function satisfactorily without any ornamentation of the type that renders the Kieselstein-Cord buckles distinctive.

      107

      773 F.2d at 419. Thus, it was the fact that the creator of the torsos was driven by utilitarian concerns, such as how display clothes would fit on the end product, that deprived the human torsos of copyright protection.

      108

      This process-oriented approach for conceptual separability — focusing on the process of creating the object to determine whether it is entitled to copyright protection — is more fully articulated in Brandir and indeed reconciles the earlier case law pertaining to conceptual separability.

      109

      [T]he approach is consistent with the holdings of our previous cases. In Kieselstein-Cord, [931] for example, the artistic aspects of the belt buckles reflected purely aesthetic choices, independent of the buckles' function, while in Carol Barnhart the distinctive features of the torsos — the accurate anatomical design and the sculpted shirts and collars — showed clearly the influence of functional concerns. Though the torsos bore artistic features, it was evident the designer incorporated those features to further the usefulness of the torsos as mannequins.

      110

      Brandir, 834 F.2d at 1145.

      111

      Furthermore, Brandir is not inconsistent with the more theoretical rendition of Judge Newman in his Carol Barnhart dissent — that "the requisite 'separateness' exists whenever the design creates in the mind of an ordinary observer two different concepts that are not inevitably entertained simultaneously." 773 F.2d at 422. When a product has reached its final form as a result of predominantly functional or utilitarian considerations, it necessarily will be more difficult for the observer to entertain simultaneously two different concepts — the artistic object and the utilitarian object. In such circumstances, Brandir has the added benefit of providing a more workable judicial methodology by articulating the driving principle behind conceptual separability — the influence of industrial design. When the ultimate form of the object in question is "as much the result of utilitarian pressures as aesthetic choices," "[f]orm and function are inextricably intertwined," and the artistic aspects of the object cannot be separated from its utilitarian aspects for purposes of copyright protection. Brandir, 834 F.2d at 1147.

      112

      Conceptual separability exists, therefore, when the artistic aspects of an article can be "conceptualized as existing independently of their utilitarian function." Carol Barnhart, 773 F.2d at 418. This independence is necessarily informed by "whether the design elements can be identified as reflecting the designer's artistic judgment exercised independently of functional influences." Brandir, 834 F.2d at 1145. If the elements do reflect the independent, artistic judgment of the designer, conceptual separability exists. Conversely, when the design of a useful article is "as much the result of utilitarian pressures as aesthetic choices," id. at 1147, the useful and aesthetic elements are not conceptually separable.

      113

      Applying this test to the Mara mannequin, we must conclude that the Mara face is subject to copyright protection. It certainly is not difficult to conceptualize a human face, independent of all of Mara's specific facial features, i.e., the shape of the eye, the upturned nose, the angular cheek and jaw structure, that would serve the utilitarian functions of a hair stand and, if proven, of a makeup model. Indeed, one is not only able to conceive of a different face than that portrayed on the Mara mannequin, but one easily can conceive of another visage that portrays the "hungry look" on a high-fashion runway model. Just as Mattel is entitled to protection for "its own particularized expression" of an "upturned nose[], bow lips, and widely spaced eyes," Mattel, 365 F.3d at 136, so too is Heerlein (and, therefore, Pivot Point as assignee of the copyright registration) entitled to have his expression of the "hungry look" protected from copying.

      114

      Mara can be conceptualized as existing independent from its use in hair display or make-up training because it is the product of Heerlein's artistic judgment. When Passage approached Heerlein about creating the Mara sculpture, Passage did not provide Heerlein with specific dimensions or measurements; indeed, there is no evidence that Heerlein's artistic judgment was constrained by functional considerations. [932] Passage did not require, for instance, that the sculpture's eyes be a certain width to accommodate standard-sized eyelashes, that the brow be arched at a certain angle to facilitate easy make-up application or that the sculpture as a whole not exceed certain dimensional limits so as to fit within Pivot Point's existing packaging system. Such considerations, had they been present, would weigh against a determination that Mara was purely the product of an artistic effort. By contrast, after Passage met with Heerlein to discuss Passage's idea for a "hungry-look" model, Heerlein had carte blanche to implement that vision as he saw fit. Consequently, this is not a situation, such as was presented to the Second Circuit in Carol Barnhart, in which certain features ("accurate anatomical design and the sculpted shirts and collars") were included in the design for purely functional reasons. Brandir, 834 F.2d at 1145. Furthermore, unlike "the headless, armless, backless styrene torsos" which "were little more than glorified coat-racks used to display clothing in stores," Hart, 86 F.3d at 323, the creative aspects of the Mara sculpture were meant to be seen and admired. Thus, because Mara was the product of a creative process unfettered by functional concerns, its sculptural features "can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of," its utilitarian aspects. It therefore meets the requirements for conceptual separability and is subject to copyright protection.

      115
      Conclusion
      116

      The Mara mannequin is subject to copyright protection. We therefore must reverse the summary judgment in favor of Charlene Products and Mr. Yau; the case is remanded for a trial on Pivot Point's infringement claim. Furthermore, because Charlene Products and Mr. Yau have not prevailed on the merits at this point, the judgment of the district court with respect to attorneys' fees must be vacated. The cross-appeal with respect to attorneys' fees is moot. Pivot Point may recover its costs in this court.

      117

      REVERSED AND REMANDED; CROSS-APPEAL DISMISSED

      118

      __________

      119

      KANNE, Circuit Judge, dissenting.

      120

      Writing for the majority, Judge Ripple has applied his usual thorough and scholarly approach to this difficult intellectual property problem; however, I cannot join the majority opinion because I am not persuaded that the "Mara" mannequin is copyrightable. All functional items have aesthetic qualities. If copyright provided protection for functional items simply because of their aesthetic qualities, Congress's policy choice that gives less protection in patent than copyright would be undermined. See American Dental Ass'n v. Delta Dental Plans Ass'n, 126 F.3d 977, 980 (7th Cir.1997).

      121

      The majority rightly assumes that Mara is a "useful article" as defined in 17 U.S.C. § 101. Opinion at 920. To receive copyright protection as a "sculptural work," then, Mara must come within the narrow restrictions placed on "useful articles" in the definition of pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works:

      122
      [T]he design of a useful article ... shall be considered a... sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates ... sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.
      123

      17 U.S.C. § 101 (emphasis added). As the district court noted, the statute requires, on its face, that sculptural features must be separately identified from the utilitarian aspects of the article ("conceptual separability") and they must exist independently from the utilitarian aspects of the article [933] ("physical separability") in order to receive copyright protection. As to whether both conceptual and physical separability are required for copyrightability, most courts and commentators have concluded that only one or the other test is appropriate. But that issue is not presented here because Mara is not copyrightable regardless of whether both or either is applied.

      124

      Taking physical separability first, the district court used examples from case law to illustrate that the sculptural features in many useful items can be physically removed from the object and sold separately without affecting the functionality of the useful article. See, e.g., Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 74 S.Ct. 460, 98 L.Ed. 630 (1954) (holding that a sculpture of a dancer carved into the base of a lamp may be copyrighted); Kieselstein-Cord v. Accessories by Pearl, Inc., 632 F.2d 989 (2d Cir.1980) (holding that decorative belt buckles could be copyrighted as separate objects sold not to hold up one's pants).

      125

      Mara, on the other hand, has only functional attributes. Thus, any physical separation of a portion of her would not be independent of her utilitarian aspects. She is sold to beauty schools as a teaching device; students style her hair and apply makeup as realistic training for such pursuits on live subjects. A mannequin head without a neck, or with different eyes and musculature, would not serve the utilitarian purpose of applying makeup or teaching the art of matching hair styles to facial features. As the district court explained: "Beauty students style hair to flatter the face, not to be worn on featureless ovoids. The use of a mannequin head in training students of beauty schools lies in its aesthetic qualities." There is nothing in Mara that we could physically remove that would not be part of Mara's utility as a teaching aid. Like mannequins of human torsos, Carol Barnhart Inc. v. Economy Cover Corp., 773 F.2d 411, 418-19 (2d Cir.1985), mannequins of human faces are not physically separable from their functional purpose and are therefore not copyrightable.

      126

      Next, the district court considered various restatements of the meaning of "conceptual separability" (whether features can be identified or conceived of separately from the utilitarian aspects) and applied the most appropriate one to Mara. Professor Goldstein, in his treatise, Copyright: Principles, Law & Practice, presents a reasonable explanation of the statutory text: "a ... sculptural feature incorporated in the design of a useful article is conceptually separable if it can stand on its own as a work of art traditionally conceived, and if the useful article in which it is embodied would be equally useful without it." Mara has no conceptually separable features to which copyright protection could be granted. Her features are incapable of being identified separately from the utilitarian use of those features. Without features, the mannequin's head and neck would be little more than an egg on a stick, useless for its intended purpose. Mara possesses neither physical nor conceptual separability.

      127

      The majority, concluding that Congress intended "to state a single, integrated standard," deduced that the standard must be "conceptual separability." This may be correct, as it is very difficult to divine the distinction between physical and conceptual separability if those standards are properly stated. In my view, however, the majority's explanation of conceptual separability lacks a basis in the statute. As the majority sees it, conceptual separability "exists ... when the artistic aspects of an article can be conceptualized as existing independently of their utilitarian function." Opinion at 931. The majority further explains that the way to determine if this is the case is to look to the process of design: if independent "artistic" choices were made in the sculpture's creation, and such [934] choices were not later sullied by the influence of industrial design, then some of the useful article is a conceptually separable sculpture and therefore copyrightable, Opinion at 931-32.

      128

      Problematically, the majority's test for conceptual separability seems to bear little resemblance to the statute. The statute asks two questions: Does the useful article incorporate "sculptural features that can be identified separately from the utilitarian aspects" of the article? And are these features "capable of existing independently" from the utilitarian aspects? The copyright statute is concerned with protecting only non-utilitarian features of the useful article. To be copyrightable, the statute requires that the useful article's functionality remain intact once the copyrightable material is separated. In other words, Pivot Point needs to show that Mara's face is not a utilitarian "aspect" of the product "Mara," but rather a separate non-utilitarian "feature." The majority, by looking only to whether the features could also "be conceptualized as existing independently of their utilitarian function" and ignoring the more important question of whether the features themselves are utilitarian aspects of the useful article, mistakenly presupposes that utilitarian aspects of a useful article can be copyrighted. If we took away Mara's facial features, her functionality would be greatly diminished or eliminated, thus proving that her features cannot be copyrighted.

      129

      Moreover, the "process-oriented approach," advocated by the majority drifts even further away from the statute. Opinion at 930. The statute looks to the useful article as it exists, not to how it was created. I believe it simply is irrelevant to inquire into the origins of Mara's eyes, cheekbones, and neck. If such features have been fully incorporated as functional aspects of the mannequin, then copyright does not provide protection. Even if we were to look at the "process" that led to the creation of Mara, it is undeniable that, from the beginning, Pivot Point intended Mara to serve a functional purpose and commissioned her creation to fulfill that purpose (not to create a work of art for aesthetic beauty).

      130

      The majority, as evidenced by its emphasis on the fact that Charlene Products apparently copied Mara with its doll, "Liza," seems unduly concerned in this context with Charlene's questionable business practices. This is immaterial to the determination of whether the Mara doll is protected by copyright law. Importantly, other possible legal protections for Pivot Point's intellectual property — design patent, trademark, trade dress, and state unfair competition law — are available to address the majority's concerns. Copyright does not protect functional products. Charlene is free, under its own brand name, to copy and sell copies of useful articles that do not have patent protection. See, e.g., TrafFix Devices, Inc. v. Marketing Displays, Inc., 532 U.S. 23, 121 S.Ct. 1255, 149 L.Ed.2d 164 (2001); Bonito Boats, Inc. v. Thunder Craft Boats, Inc., 489 U.S. 141, 109 S.Ct. 971, 103 L.Ed.2d 118 (1989); Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Stiffel Co., 376 U.S. 225, 84 S.Ct. 784, 11 L.Ed.2d 661 (1964). I fear that the majority's opinion grants copyright protection to functional aspects of a useful article. I would, therefore, affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Charlene Products and Mr. Yau.

      131

      __________

      132

      [1] Chief Judge Joel M. Flaum, The Honorable Frank H. Easterbrook and The Honorable Ann Claire Williams did not participate in the consideration of the petition for rehearing en banc.

      133

      [2] Mr. Yau was not unfamiliar with Pivot Point. Shortly before founding Charlene Products in 1985, Mr. Yau had worked for Pivot Point.

      134

      [3] Charlene eventually obtained a copyright registration for its Liza mannequin.

      135

      [4] Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 83 provides:

      136

      (1) Each district court, acting by a majority of its district judges, may, after giving appropriate public notice and an opportunity for comment, make and amend rules governing its practice. A local rule shall be consistent with — but not duplicative of — Acts of Congress and rules adopted under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2072 and 2075, and shall conform to any uniform numbering system prescribed by the Judicial Conference of the United States. A local rule takes effect on the date specified by the district court and remains in effect unless amended by the court or abrogated by the judicial council of the circuit. Copies of rules and amendments shall, upon their promulgation, be furnished to the judicial council and the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and be made available to the public.

      137

      Fed.R.Civ.P. 83(a)(1) (emphasis added).

      138

      [5] The district court relied heavily on this fact in concluding that Mara is a useful object:

      139

      Mara is a work of "applied art" and displays "artistic craftsmanship" — Pivot Point commissioned a sculptor to design a mannequin head that emulates features of runway models — but serves utilitarian ends: Students in beauty schools practice styling hair on Mara's head and may practice other skills by applying makeup to Mara's eyes, lips, and cheeks. The parties dispute which functions are primary. Charlene Products says that Mara is used primarily for practicing makeup; Pivot Point insists that its primary use is hair styling. This factual dispute might have legal significance if Pivot Point were contending that Mara's sole use is hair styling; then it is (barely) possible to imagine a suitable mannequin head devoid of human features. (The legal significance of this possibility is explicated below.) But Pivot Point contends only that Mara's "primary" use is hair styling; it does not deny that a use (if only, in its view, a secondary one) is the application of makeup and other beauty-school arts, and the evidence would not permit a reasonable jury to conclude that Mara has no utilitarian value for makeup practice. (Pivot Point says that it "generally" sells Mara with painted-on makeup, which reveals by negative implication that it also sells Mara without eye or cheek coloring, so that beauty-school students can add their own.)

      140

      R.401 at 2.

      141

      [6] Prior to the addition of this language in the 1976 Act, Congress had not explicitly authorized the Copyright Office to register "useful articles." Indeed, when Congress first extended copyright protection to three-dimensional works of art in 1870, copyright protection was limited to objects of fine art; objects of applied art still were not protected. See Paul Goldstein, 1 Copyright § 2.5.3 at 2:58 (2d ed.2004). This changed with the adoption of the Copyright Act of 1909 ("1909 Act"); Professor Goldstein explains:

      142
      The 1909 Act, which continued protection for three-dimensional works of art, dropped the requirement that they constitute fine art and thus opened the door to protection of useful works of art. In 1948, the Copyright Office broadened the scope of protection for three-dimensional works of art to cover "works of artistic craftsmanship insofar as their form but not their utilitarian aspects are concerned." The United States Supreme Court upheld this interpretation in Mazer v. Stein, [347 U.S. 201, 213, 74 S.Ct. 460, 98 L.Ed. 630 (1954),] holding that the fact that statuettes in issue were intended for use in articles of manufacture — electric lamp bases — did not bar them from copyright. Five years later, in 1959, the Copyright Office promulgated a rule that if "the sole intrinsic function of an article is its utility, the fact that the work is unique and attractively shaped will not qualify it as a work of art." The regulation did, however, permit registration of features of a utilitarian article that "can be identified separately and are capable of existing independently as a work of art.
      143

      Id. (quoting 37 C.F.R. § 207.8(a) (1949) and 37 C.F.R. § 202.10(c) (1959); footnotes omitted).

      144

      [7] See infra note 8.

      145

      [8] Although the district court was skeptical that the statutory language encompassed both physical and conceptual separability, circuits have been almost unanimous in interpreting the language of § 101 to include both types of separability. See Superior Form Builders, Inc. v. Dan Chase Taxidermy Supply Co., Inc., 74 F.3d 488, 494 (4th Cir.1996) (asking whether functional aspects of animal mannequins are "conceptually separable from the works' sculptural features"); Brandir Int'l, Inc. v. Cascade Pac. Lumber Co., 834 F.2d 1142, 1144 (2d Cir.1987) (stating that "'[c]onceptual separability' is alive and well"); Carol Barnhart Inc. v. Econ. Cover Corp., 773 F.2d 411, 418 (2d Cir.1985) (judging copyrightability of mannequin torsos based on whether "forms possess aesthetic or artistic features that are physically or conceptually separable from the forms' use as utilitarian objects to display clothes"); Norris Indus., Inc. v. Int'l Tel. & Tel. Corp., 696 F.2d 918, 923 (11th Cir.1983) ("Both case law and legislative history indicate that separability encompasses works of art that are either physically severable from the utilitarian article or conceptually severable."); Kieselstein-Cord v. Accessories by Pearl, Inc., 632 F.2d 989, 993 (2d Cir.1980) (applying test of conceptual separability).

      146

      Only one appellate court has rejected the idea of conceptual separability. See Esquire, Inc. v. Ringer, 591 F.2d 796 (D.C.Cir.1978). In that case, arising under the 1909 Act, the Copyright Office had refused to register a design for outdoor lighting fixtures. The district court, however, believed the fixtures were copyrightable and issued a writ of mandamus that the copyright issue. However, the D.C. Circuit reversed. The precise question before the court was whether the regulation implementing the 1909 Act mandated that the Copyright Office register a copyright for the lighting fixtures. The regulation at issue provided:

      147
      (c) If the sole intrinsic function of an article is its utility, the fact that the article is unique and attractively shaped will not qualify it as a work of art. However, if the shape of a utilitarian article incorporates features, such as artistic sculpture, carving, or pictorial representation, which can be identified separately and are capable of existing independently as a work of art, such features will be eligible for registration.
      148

      Id. at 800 (quoting 37 C.F.R. § 202.10(b) (1976)). The Copyright Office took the position that the regulation barred "copyright registration for the overall shape or configuration of a utilitarian article, no matter how aesthetically pleasing that shape or configuration may be." Id. In determining whether to accept or reject the proffered interpretation, the court noted that "[c]onsiderable weight is to be given to an agency's interpretation of its regulations," especially when "an administrative interpretation relates to a matter within the field of administrative expertise." Id. at 801. The court concluded that the Copyright Office had adopted a "reasonable and well-supported interpretation of § 202.10(c)." Id. at 800. In the court's view, the interpretation was grounded in "the principle that industrial designs are not eligible for copyright." Id. The court also believed that the interpretation found support in the legislative history of the newly enacted 1976 Act. The court acknowledged, however, that the legislative history was not "free from ambiguity"; it explained:

      149
      Esquire could arguably draw some support from the statement that a protectable element of a utilitarian article must be separable "physically or conceptually" from the utilitarian aspects of the design. But any possible ambiguity raised by this isolated reference disappears when the excerpt is considered in its entirety. The underscored passages indicate unequivocally that the overall design or configuration of a utilitarian object, even if it is determined by aesthetic as well as functional considerations, is not eligible for copyright. Thus the legislative history, taken as congressional understanding of existing law, reinforces the Register's position.
      150

      Id. at 803-04.

      151

      As is evident from the passages set forth above, the issue addressed by the D.C. Circuit in Esquire arose in a much different procedural and legal environment than the issue in the present case. The court's focus in Esquire was a regulation adopted pursuant to the former law and its obligation to defer to the agency's interpretation of the law embodied in that regulation. Furthermore, the court acknowledged that the 1976 Act was "not applicable to the case before" it. Id. at 803. Given these differences, we do not believe that the D.C. Circuit would conclude that its decision in Esquire disposed of the issue of conceptual separability presently before this court.

      152

      [9] Judge Weinstein (sitting by designation) dissented. See Kieselstein-Cord, 632 F.2d at 993.

      153

      [10] There were a total of four mannequins at issue, two male and two female. Of those four, two of the mannequin forms were unclothed, and two were formed with one layer of clothing and were meant specifically for the display of outerwear.

      154

      [11] Notably, in Hart v. Dan Chase Taxidermy Supply Co., 86 F.3d 320 (2d Cir.1996), the Second Circuit shortly thereafter addressed the question whether a fish mannequin was copyrightable. Although the court did not address specifically the issue before us today, its analysis is nevertheless helpful. Referring to its decision in Carol Barnhart, the Second Circuit posed the question rather simplistically: "Is taxidermy different [for purposes of copyright protection]?" Id. at 321. The Second Circuit resolved that it is:

      155

      We do not agree that Barnhart mandates a finding that fish mannequins are "useful articles" undeserving of copyright protection.... [W]e do not believe that the Barnhart torsos can be analogized to the fish in this case. In Barnhart, the headless, armless, backless styrene torsos were little more than glorified coat-racks used to display clothing in stores. The torsos were designed to present the clothing, not their own forms. In taxidermy, by contrast, people look for more than a fish skin; they wish to see a complete "fish." The superficial characteristics of the fish, such as its color and texture, are admittedly conveyed by the skin, but the shape, volume, and movement of the animal are depicted by the underlying mannequin. Whether the fish is shown as resting, jumping, wiggling its tail, or preparing to munch on some plankton, is dictated by the mannequin and by its particular form, not by the skin.

      In short, the fish mannequin is designed to be looked at. That the fish mannequin is meant to be viewed clothed by a fish skin, rather than naked and on its own, makes no difference. The function of the fish form is to portray its own appearance, and that fact is enough to bring it within the scope of the Copyright Act. 17 U.S.C. § 101; accord Superior Form Builders v. Dan Chase Taxidermy Supply Co., 74 F.3d 488 (4th Cir.1996) (distinguishing Barnhart and holding that mammal taxidermy mannequins are "sculptural works" rather than "useful articles" because their utilitarian aspects serve "merely to portray the appearance" of the animal)....

      We conclude that fish mannequins even if considered "useful articles," are useful insofar as they "portray the[ir] appearance." 17 U.S.C. § 101. That makes them copyrightable.

      156

      Id. at 323 (internal citation omitted). Thus, the Second Circuit distinguished fish mannequins from human mannequins; however, it did so on the basis that the fish mannequins were not "useful articles" as that term is defined in § 101, not on the basis that, although useful, the artistic aspects were physically or conceptually separable from the useful aspects of the article.

      157

       

  • 3 Software

    • 3.1 Computer Associates International, Inc. v. Altai, Inc., 982 F.2d 693 (2d Cir. 1992)

      1
      982 F.2d 693
      2
      119 A.L.R.Fed. 741, 61 USLW 2434, 37
      Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 348
      3
      COMPUTER ASSOCIATES INTERNATIONAL, INC.,
      Plaintiff-Appellant-Cross-Appellee,
      v.
      ALTAI, INC., Defendant-Appellee-Cross-Appellant.
      4
      No. 762, Dockets 91-7893, 91-7935.
      5
      United States Court of Appeals,
      Second Circuit.
      6
      Argued Jan. 9, 1992.
      Decided June 22, 1992.
      Amended Opinion Dec. 17, 1992.
      7

      [695] Stephen D. Kahn, New York City (Stuart D. Levi, Beth K. Neelman, Carol A. Motyka, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Michael A. [696] McElroy, Computer Associates Intern., Inc., of counsel), for plaintiff-appellant, cross-appellee.

      8

      Susan G. Braden, Washington, DC (Christ M. Kacoyannakis, Anderson Kill Olick & Oshinshy, Washington, DC, Stephen D. Susman, Susman Godfrey, Houston, TX, of counsel), for defendant-appellee, cross-appellant.

      9

      Bruce A. Lehman, Swidler & Berlin, Washington, DC, filed a brief amicus curiae, on behalf of The Software Publishers Ass'n.

      10

      Peter M.C. Choy, Mountain View, CA, filed a brief amicus curiae, on behalf of the American Committee for Interoperable Systems.

      11

      J. David Cabello, Houston, TX, David R. Bradford, Provo, UT, Robert H. Kohn, Scotts Valley, CA, filed a brief amici curiae, on behalf of Compaq Computer Corp., Novell, Inc., and Borland Intern., Inc.

      12

      Before ALTIMARI, MAHONEY and WALKER, Circuit Judges.

      13

      WALKER, Circuit Judge:

      14

      In recent years, the growth of computer science has spawned a number of challenging legal questions, particularly in the field of copyright law. As scientific knowledge advances, courts endeavor to keep pace, and sometimes--as in the area of computer technology--they are required to venture into less than familiar waters. This is not a new development, though. "From its beginning, the law of copyright has developed in response to significant changes in technology." Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417, 430, 104 S.Ct. 774, 782, 78 L.Ed.2d 574 (1984).

      15

      Article I, section 8 of the Constitution authorizes Congress "[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." The Supreme Court has stated that "[t]he economic philosophy behind the clause ... is the conviction that encouragement of individual effort by personal gain is the best way to advance public welfare...." Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 219, 74 S.Ct. 460, 471, 98 L.Ed. 630 (1954). The author's benefit, however, is clearly a "secondary" consideration. See United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., 334 U.S. 131, 158, 68 S.Ct. 915, 929, 92 L.Ed. 1260 (1948). "[T]he ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good." Twentieth Century Music Corp. v. Aiken, 422 U.S. 151, 156, 95 S.Ct. 2040, 2044, 45 L.Ed.2d 84 (1975).

      16

      Thus, the copyright law seeks to establish a delicate equilibrium. On the one hand, it affords protection to authors as an incentive to create, and, on the other, it must appropriately limit the extent of that protection so as to avoid the effects of monopolistic stagnation. In applying the federal act to new types of cases, courts must always keep this symmetry in mind. Id.

      17

      Among other things, this case deals with the challenging question of whether and to what extent the "non-literal" aspects of a computer program, that is, those aspects that are not reduced to written code, are protected by copyright. While a few other courts have already grappled with this issue, this case is one of first impression in this circuit. As we shall discuss, we find the results reached by other courts to be less than satisfactory. Drawing upon long-standing doctrines of copyright law, we take an approach that we think better addresses the practical difficulties embedded in these types of cases. In so doing, we have kept in mind the necessary balance between creative incentive and industrial competition.

      18

      This appeal comes to us from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the Honorable George C. Pratt, Circuit Judge, sitting by designation. By Memorandum and Order entered August 12, 1991, Judge Pratt found that defendant Altai, Inc.'s ("Altai"), OSCAR 3.4 computer program had infringed plaintiff Computer Associates' ("CA"), copyrighted computer program entitled CA-SCHEDULER. Accordingly, the district court awarded CA $364,444 in actual damages and apportioned profits. Altai has [697] abandoned its appeal from this award. With respect to CA's second claim for copyright infringement, Judge Pratt found that Altai's OSCAR 3.5 program was not substantially similar to a portion of CA-SCHEDULER called ADAPTER, and thus denied relief. Finally, the district court concluded that CA's state law trade secret misappropriation claim against Altai had been preempted by the federal Copyright Act. CA appealed from these findings.

      19

      Because we are in full agreement with Judge Pratt's decision and in substantial agreement with his careful reasoning regarding CA's copyright infringement claim, we affirm the district court's judgment on that issue. However, we vacate the district court's preemption ruling with respect to CA's trade secret claim, and remand the case to the district court for further proceedings.

      20
      BACKGROUND
      21

      We assume familiarity with the facts set forth in the district court's comprehensive and scholarly opinion. See Computer Assocs. Int'l., Inc. v. Altai, Inc., 775 F.Supp. 544, 549-55 (E.D.N.Y.1991). Thus, we summarize only those facts necessary to resolve this appeal.

      22
      I. COMPUTER PROGRAM DESIGN
      23

      Certain elementary facts concerning the nature of computer programs are vital to the following discussion. The Copyright Act defines a computer program as "a set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result." 17 U.S.C. § 101. In writing these directions, the programmer works "from the general to the specific." Whelan Assocs., Inc. v. Jaslow Dental Lab., Inc., 797 F.2d 1222, 1229 (3d Cir.1986), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 1031, 107 S.Ct. 877, 93 L.Ed.2d 831 (1987). See generally Steven R. Englund, Note, Idea, Process, or Protected Expression?: Determining the Scope of Copyright Protection of the Structure of Computer Programs, 88 MICH.L.REV. 866, 867-73 (1990) (hereinafter "Englund"); Peter S. Menell, An Analysis of the Scope of Copyright Protection for Application Programs, 41 STAN.L.REV. 1045, 1051-57 (1989) (hereinafter "Menell"); Mark T. Kretschmer, Note, Copyright Protection For Software Architecture: Just Say No!, 1988 COLUM.BUS.L.REV. 823, 824-27 (1988) (hereinafter "Kretschmer"); Peter G. Spivack, Comment, Does Form Follow Function? The Idea/Expression Dichotomy In Copyright Protection of Computer Software, 35 U.C.L.A.L.REV. 723, 729-31 (1988) (hereinafter "Spivack").

      24

      The first step in this procedure is to identify a program's ultimate function or purpose. An example of such an ultimate purpose might be the creation and maintenance of a business ledger. Once this goal has been achieved, a programmer breaks down or "decomposes" the program's ultimate function into "simpler constituent problems or 'subtasks,' " Englund, at 870, which are also known as subroutines or modules. See Spivack, at 729. In the context of a business ledger program, a module or subroutine might be responsible for the task of updating a list of outstanding accounts receivable. Sometimes, depending upon the complexity of its task, a subroutine may be broken down further into sub-subroutines.

      25

      Having sufficiently decomposed the program's ultimate function into its component elements, a programmer will then arrange the subroutines or modules into what are known as organizational or flow charts. Flow charts map the interactions between modules that achieve the program's end goal. See Kretschmer, at 826.

      26

      In order to accomplish these intra-program interactions, a programmer must carefully design each module's parameter list. A parameter list, according to the expert appointed and fully credited by the district court, Dr. Randall Davis, is "the information sent to and received from a subroutine." See Report of Dr. Randall Davis, at 12. The term "parameter list" refers to the form in which information is passed between modules (e.g. for accounts receivable, the designated time frame and particular customer identifying number) and the information's actual content (e.g. [698] 8/91-7/92; customer No. 3). Id. With respect to form, interacting modules must share similar parameter lists so that they are capable of exchanging information.

      27

      "The functions of the modules in a program together with each module's relationships to other modules constitute the 'structure' of the program." Englund, at 871. Additionally, the term structure may include the category of modules referred to as "macros." A macro is a single instruction that initiates a sequence of operations or module interactions within the program. Very often the user will accompany a macro with an instruction from the parameter list to refine the instruction (e.g. current total of accounts receivable (macro), but limited to those for 8/91 to 7/92 from customer No. 3 (parameters)).

      28

      In fashioning the structure, a programmer will normally attempt to maximize the program's speed, efficiency, as well as simplicity for user operation, while taking into consideration certain externalities such as the memory constraints of the computer upon which the program will be run. See id.; Kretschmer, at 826; Menell, at 1052. "This stage of program design often requires the most time and investment." Kretschmer, at 826.

      29

      Once each necessary module has been identified, designed, and its relationship to the other modules has been laid out conceptually, the resulting program structure must be embodied in a written language that the computer can read. This process is called "coding," and requires two steps. Whelan, 797 F.2d at 1230. First, the programmer must transpose the program's structural blue-print into a source code. This step has been described as "comparable to the novelist fleshing out the broad outline of his plot by crafting from words and sentences the paragraphs that convey the ideas." Kretschmer, at 826. The source code may be written in any one of several computer languages, such as COBAL, FORTRAN, BASIC, EDL, etc., depending upon the type of computer for which the program is intended. Whelan, 797 F.2d at 1230. Once the source code has been completed, the second step is to translate or "compile" it into object code. Object code is the binary language comprised of zeros and ones through which the computer directly receives its instructions. Id. at 1230-31; Englund, at 868 & n. 13.

      30

      After the coding is finished, the programmer will run the program on the computer in order to find and correct any logical and syntactical errors. This is known as "debugging" and, once done, the program is complete. See Kretschmer, at 826-27.

      31
      II. FACTS
      32

      CA is a Delaware corporation, with its principal place of business in Garden City, New York. Altai is a Texas corporation, doing business primarily in Arlington, Texas. Both companies are in the computer software industry--designing, developing and marketing various types of computer programs.

      33

      The subject of this litigation originates with one of CA's marketed programs entitled CA-SCHEDULER. CA-SCHEDULER is a job scheduling program designed for IBM mainframe computers. Its primary functions are straightforward: to create a schedule specifying when the computer should run various tasks, and then to control the computer as it executes the schedule. CA-SCHEDULER contains a sub-program entitled ADAPTER, also developed by CA. ADAPTER is not an independently marketed product of CA; it is a wholly integrated component of CA-SCHEDULER and has no capacity for independent use.

      34

      Nevertheless, ADAPTER plays an extremely important role. It is an "operating system compatibility component," which means, roughly speaking, it serves as a translator. An "operating system" is itself a program that manages the resources of the computer, allocating those resources to other programs as needed. The IBM System 370 family of computers, for which CA-SCHEDULER was created, is, depending upon the computer's size, designed to contain one of three operating systems: DOS/VSE, MVS, or CMS. As the district court noted, the general rule is that "a [699] program written for one operating system, e.g., DOS/VSE, will not, without modification, run under another operating system such as MVS." Computer Assocs., 775 F.Supp. at 550. ADAPTER's function is to translate the language of a given program into the particular language that the computer's own operating system can understand.

      35

      The district court succinctly outlined the manner in which ADAPTER works within the context of the larger program. In order to enable CA-SCHEDULER to function on different operating systems, CA divided the CA-SCHEDULER into two components:

      36

      --a first component that contains only the task-specific portions of the program, independent of all operating system issues, and

      --a second component that contains all the interconnections between the first component and the operating system.

      In a program constructed in this way, whenever the first, task-specific, component needs to ask the operating system for some resource through a "system call", it calls the second component instead of calling the operating system directly.

      The second component serves as an "interface" or "compatibility component" between the task-specific portion of the program and the operating system. It receives the request from the first component and translates it into the appropriate system call that will be recognized by whatever operating system is installed on the computer, e.g., DOS/VSE, MVS, or CMS. Since the first, task-specific component calls the adapter component rather than the operating system, the first component need not be customized to use any specific operating system. The second, interface, component insures that all the system calls are performed properly for the particular operating system in use.

      37

      Id. at 551.

      38

      ADAPTER serves as the second, "common system interface" component referred to above.

      39

      A program like ADAPTER, which allows a computer user to change or use multiple operating systems while maintaining the same software, is highly desirable. It saves the user the costs, both in time and money, that otherwise would be expended in purchasing new programs, modifying existing systems to run them, and gaining familiarity with their operation. The benefits run both ways. The increased compatibility afforded by an ADAPTER-like component, and its resulting popularity among consumers, makes whatever software in which it is incorporated significantly more marketable.

      40

      Starting in 1982, Altai began marketing its own job scheduling program entitled ZEKE. The original version of ZEKE was designed for use in conjunction with a VSE operating system. By late 1983, in response to customer demand, Altai decided to rewrite ZEKE so that it could be run in conjunction with an MVS operating system.

      41

      At that time, James P. Williams ("Williams"), then an employee of Altai and now its President, approached Claude F. Arney, III ("Arney"), a computer programmer who worked for CA. Williams and Arney were longstanding friends, and had in fact been co-workers at CA for some time before Williams left CA to work for Altai's predecessor. Williams wanted to recruit Arney to assist Altai in designing an MVS version of ZEKE.

      42

      At the time he first spoke with Arney, Williams was aware of both the CA-SCHEDULER and ADAPTER programs. However, Williams was not involved in their development and had never seen the codes of either program. When he asked Arney to come work for Altai, Williams did not know that ADAPTER was a component of CA-SCHEDULER.

      43

      Arney, on the other hand, was intimately familiar with various aspects of ADAPTER. While working for CA, he helped improve the VSE version of ADAPTER, and was permitted to take home a copy of ADAPTER'S source code. This apparently developed into an irresistible habit, for when Arney left CA to work for Altai in January, 1984, he took with him copies of [700] the source code for both the VSE and MVS versions of ADAPTER. He did this in knowing violation of the CA employee agreements that he had signed.

      44

      Once at Altai, Arney and Williams discussed design possibilities for adapting ZEKE to run on MVS operating systems. Williams, who had created the VSE version of ZEKE, thought that approximately 30% of his original program would have to be modified in order to accommodate MVS. Arney persuaded Williams that the best way to make the needed modifications was to introduce a "common system interface" component into ZEKE. He did not tell Williams that his idea stemmed from his familiarity with ADAPTER. They decided to name this new component-program OSCAR.

      45

      Arney went to work creating OSCAR at Altai's offices using the ADAPTER source code. The district court accepted Williams' testimony that no one at Altai, with the exception of Arney, affirmatively knew that Arney had the ADAPTER code, or that he was using it to create OSCAR/VSE. However, during this time period, Williams' office was adjacent to Arney's. Williams testified that he and Arney "conversed quite frequently" while Arney was "investigating the source code of ZEKE" and that Arney was in his office "a number of times daily, asking questions." In three months, Arney successfully completed the OSCAR/VSE project. In an additional month he developed an OSCAR/MVS version. When the dust finally settled, Arney had copied approximately 30% of OSCAR's code from CA's ADAPTER program.

      46

      The first generation of OSCAR programs was known as OSCAR 3.4. From 1985 to August 1988, Altai used OSCAR 3.4 in its ZEKE product, as well as in programs entitled ZACK and ZEBB. In late July 1988, CA first learned that Altai may have appropriated parts of ADAPTER. After confirming its suspicions, CA secured copyrights on its 2.1 and 7.0 versions of CA-SCHEDULER. CA then brought this copyright and trade secret misappropriation action against Altai.

      47

      Apparently, it was upon receipt of the summons and complaint that Altai first learned that Arney had copied much of the OSCAR code from ADAPTER. After Arney confirmed to Williams that CA's accusations of copying were true, Williams immediately set out to survey the damage. Without ever looking at the ADAPTER code himself, Williams learned from Arney exactly which sections of code Arney had taken from ADAPTER.

      48

      Upon advice of counsel, Williams initiated OSCAR's rewrite. The project's goal was to save as much of OSCAR 3.4 as legitimately could be used, and to excise those portions which had been copied from ADAPTER. Arney was entirely excluded from the process, and his copy of the ADAPTER code was locked away. Williams put eight other programmers on the project, none of whom had been involved in any way in the development of OSCAR 3.4. Williams provided the programmers with a description of the ZEKE operating system services so that they could rewrite the appropriate code. The rewrite project took about six months to complete and was finished in mid-November 1989. The resulting program was entitled OSCAR 3.5.

      49

      From that point on, Altai shipped only OSCAR 3.5 to its new customers. Altai also shipped OSCAR 3.5 as a "free upgrade" to all customers that had previously purchased OSCAR 3.4. While Altai and Williams acted responsibly to correct Arney's literal copying of the ADAPTER program, copyright infringement had occurred.

      50

      After CA originally instituted this action in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, the parties stipulated its transfer in March, 1989, to the Eastern District of New York where it was assigned to Judge Jacob Mishler. On October 26, 1989, Judge Mishler transferred the case to Judge Pratt who was sitting in the district court by designation. Judge Pratt conducted a six day trial from March 28 through April 6, 1990. He entered judgment on August 12, 1991, and this appeal followed.

      51
      [701] DISCUSSION
      52

      While both parties originally appealed from different aspects of the district court's judgment, Altai has now abandoned its appellate claims. In particular, Altai has conceded liability for the copying of ADAPTER into OSCAR 3.4 and raises no challenge to the award of $364,444 in damages on that score. Thus, we address only CA's appeal from the district court's rulings that: (1) Altai was not liable for copyright infringement in developing OSCAR 3.5; and (2) in developing both OSCAR 3.4 and 3.5, Altai was not liable for misappropriating CA's trade secrets.

      53

      CA makes two arguments. First, CA contends that the district court applied an erroneous method for determining whether there exists substantial similarity between computer programs, and thus, erred in determining that OSCAR 3.5 did not infringe the copyrights held on the different versions of its CA-SCHEDULER program. CA asserts that the test applied by the district court failed to account sufficiently for a computer program's non-literal elements. Second, CA maintains that the district court erroneously concluded that its state law trade secret claims had been preempted by the federal Copyright Act. See 17 U.S.C. § 301(a). We shall address each argument in turn.

      54
      I. COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
      55

      In any suit for copyright infringement, the plaintiff must establish its ownership of a valid copyright, and that the defendant copied the copyrighted work. See Novelty Textile Mills, Inc. v. Joan Fabrics Corp., 558 F.2d 1090, 1092 (2d Cir.1977); see also 3 Melville B. Nimmer & David Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright § 13.01, at 13-4 (1991) (hereinafter "Nimmer"). The plaintiff may prove defendant's copying either by direct evidence or, as is most often the case, by showing that (1) the defendant had access to the plaintiff's copyrighted work and (2) that defendant's work is substantially similar to the plaintiff's copyrightable material. See Walker v. Time Life Films, Inc., 784 F.2d 44, 48 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1159, 106 S.Ct. 2278, 90 L.Ed.2d 721 (1986).

      56

      For the purpose of analysis, the district court assumed that Altai had access to the ADAPTER code when creating OSCAR 3.5. See Computer Assocs., 775 F.Supp. at 558. Thus, in determining whether Altai had unlawfully copied protected aspects of CA's ADAPTER, the district court narrowed its focus of inquiry to ascertaining whether Altai's OSCAR 3.5 was substantially similar to ADAPTER. Because we approve Judge Pratt's conclusions regarding substantial similarity, our analysis will proceed along the same assumption.

      57

      As a general matter, and to varying degrees, copyright protection extends beyond a literary work's strictly textual form to its non-literal components. As we have said, "[i]t is of course essential to any protection of literary property ... that the right cannot be limited literally to the text, else a plagiarist would escape by immaterial variations." Nichols v. Universal Pictures Co., 45 F.2d 119, 121 (2d Cir.1930) (L. Hand, J.), cert. denied, 282 U.S. 902, 51 S.Ct. 216, 75 L.Ed. 795 (1931). Thus, where "the fundamental essence or structure of one work is duplicated in another," 3 Nimmer, § 13.03[A], at 13-24, courts have found copyright infringement. See, e.g., Horgan v. Macmillan, 789 F.2d 157, 162 (2d Cir.1986) (recognizing that a book of photographs might infringe ballet choreography); Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. v. MCA, Inc., 715 F.2d 1327, 1329 (9th Cir.1983) (motion picture and television series); Sid & Marty Krofft Television Prods., Inc. v. McDonald's Corp., 562 F.2d 1157, 1167 (9th Cir.1977) (television commercial and television series); Sheldon v. Metro-Goldwyn Pictures Corp., 81 F.2d 49, 55 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 298 U.S. 669, 56 S.Ct. 835, 80 L.Ed. 1392 (1936) (play and motion picture); accord Stewart v. Abend, 495 U.S. 207, 238, 110 S.Ct. 1750, 1769, 109 L.Ed.2d 184 (1990) (recognizing that motion picture may infringe copyright in book by using its "unique setting, characters, plot, and sequence of events"). This black letter proposition is the springboard for our discussion.

      58
      [702] A. Copyright Protection for the Non-literal Elements of Computer Programs
      59

      It is now well settled that the literal elements of computer programs, i.e., their source and object codes, are the subject of copyright protection. See Whelan, 797 F.2d at 1233 (source and object code); CMS Software Design Sys., Inc. v. Info Designs, Inc., 785 F.2d 1246, 1247 (5th Cir.1986) (source code); Apple Computer, Inc. v. Franklin Computer Corp., 714 F.2d 1240, 1249 (3d Cir.1983), cert. dismissed, 464 U.S. 1033, 104 S.Ct. 690, 79 L.Ed.2d 158 (1984) (source and object code); Williams Elecs., Inc. v. Artic Int'l, Inc., 685 F.2d 870, 876-77 (3d Cir.1982) (object code). Here, as noted earlier, Altai admits having copied approximately 30% of the OSCAR 3.4 program from CA's ADAPTER source code, and does not challenge the district court's related finding of infringement.

      60

      In this case, the hotly contested issues surround OSCAR 3.5. As recounted above, OSCAR 3.5 is the product of Altai's carefully orchestrated rewrite of OSCAR 3.4. After the purge, none of the ADAPTER source code remained in the 3.5 version; thus, Altai made sure that the literal elements of its revamped OSCAR program were no longer substantially similar to the literal elements of CA's ADAPTER.

      61

      According to CA, the district court erroneously concluded that Altai's OSCAR 3.5 was not substantially similar to its own ADAPTER program. CA argues that this occurred because the district court "committed legal error in analyzing [its] claims of copyright infringement by failing to find that copyright protects expression contained in the non-literal elements of computer software." We disagree.

      62

      CA argues that, despite Altai's rewrite of the OSCAR code, the resulting program remained substantially similar to the structure of its ADAPTER program. As discussed above, a program's structure includes its non-literal components such as general flow charts as well as the more specific organization of inter-modular relationships, parameter lists, and macros. In addition to these aspects, CA contends that OSCAR 3.5 is also substantially similar to ADAPTER with respect to the list of services that both ADAPTER and OSCAR obtain from their respective operating systems. We must decide whether and to what extent these elements of computer programs are protected by copyright law.

      63

      The statutory terrain in this area has been well explored. See Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Paperback Software Int'l, 740 F.Supp. 37, 47-51 (D.Mass.1990); see also Whelan, 797 F.2d at 1240-42; Englund, at 885-90; Spivack, at 731-37. The Copyright Act affords protection to "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression...." 17 U.S.C. § 102(a). This broad category of protected "works" includes "literary works," id. at § 102(a)(1), which are defined by the Act as

      64

      works, other than audiovisual works, expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or numerical symbols or indicia, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as books, periodicals, manuscripts, phonorecords, film tapes, disks, or cards, in which they are embodied.

      65

      17 U.S.C. § 101. While computer programs are not specifically listed as part of the above statutory definition, the legislative history leaves no doubt that Congress intended them to be considered literary works. See H.R.Rep. No. 1476, 94th Cong., 2d Sess. 54, reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5659, 5667 (hereinafter "House Report" ); Whelan, 797 F.2d at 1234; Apple Computer, 714 F.2d at 1247.

      66

      The syllogism that follows from the foregoing premises is a powerful one: if the non-literal structures of literary works are protected by copyright; and if computer programs are literary works, as we are told by the legislature; then the non-literal structures of computer programs are protected by copyright. See Whelan, 797 F.2d at 1234 ("By analogy to other literary works, it would thus appear that the copyrights of computer programs can be infringed even absent copying of the literal elements of the program."). We have no reservation in joining the company of those courts that have already ascribed to this logic. See, e.g., Johnson Controls, Inc. v. [703] Phoenix Control Sys., Inc., 886 F.2d 1173, 1175 (9th Cir.1989); Lotus Dev. Corp., 740 F.Supp. at 54; Digital Communications Assocs., Inc. v. Softklone Distrib. Corp., 659 F.Supp. 449, 455-56 (N.D.Ga.1987); Q-Co Industries, Inc. v. Hoffman, 625 F.Supp. 608, 615 (S.D.N.Y.1985); SAS Inst., Inc. v. S & H Computer Sys., Inc., 605 F.Supp. 816, 829-30 (M.D.Tenn.1985). However, that conclusion does not end our analysis. We must determine the scope of copyright protection that extends to a computer program's non-literal structure.

      67

      As a caveat, we note that our decision here does not control infringement actions regarding categorically distinct works, such as certain types of screen displays. These items represent products of computer programs, rather than the programs themselves, and fall under the copyright rubric of audiovisual works. If a computer audiovisual display is copyrighted separately as an audiovisual work, apart from the literary work that generates it (i.e., the program), the display may be protectable regardless of the underlying program's copyright status. See Stern Elecs., Inc. v. Kaufman, 669 F.2d 852, 855 (2d Cir.1982) (explaining that an audiovisual works copyright, rather than a copyright on the underlying program, extended greater protection to the sights and sounds generated by a computer video game because the same audiovisual display could be generated by different programs). Of course, the copyright protection that these displays enjoy extends only so far as their expression is protectable. See Data East USA, Inc. v. Epyx, Inc., 862 F.2d 204, 209 (9th Cir.1988). In this case, however, we are concerned not with a program's display, but the program itself, and then with only its non-literal components. In considering the copyrightability of these components, we must refer to venerable doctrines of copyright law.

      68
      1) Idea vs. Expression Dichotomy
      69

      It is a fundamental principle of copyright law that a copyright does not protect an idea, but only the expression of the idea. See Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99, 25 L.Ed. 841 (1879); Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 217, 74 S.Ct. 460, 470, 98 L.Ed. 630 (1954). This axiom of common law has been incorporated into the governing statute. Section 102(b) of the Act provides:

      70

      In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.

      71

      17 U.S.C. § 102(b). See also House Report, at 5670 ("Copyright does not preclude others from using ideas or information revealed by the author's work.").

      72

      Congress made no special exception for computer programs. To the contrary, the legislative history explicitly states that copyright protects computer programs only "to the extent that they incorporate authorship in programmer's expression of original ideas, as distinguished from the ideas themselves." Id. at 5667; see also id. at 5670 ("Section 102(b) is intended ... to make clear that the expression adopted by the programmer is the copyrightable element in a computer program, and that the actual processes or methods embodied in the program are not within the scope of copyright law.").

      73

      Similarly, the National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works ("CONTU") established by Congress to survey the issues generated by the interrelationship of advancing technology and copyright law, see Pub.L. No. 93-573, § 201, 88 Stat. 1873 (1974), recommended, inter alia, that the 1976 Copyright Act "be amended ... to make it explicit that computer programs, to the extent that they embody the author's original creation, are proper subject matter for copyright." See National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works, Final Report 1 (1979) (hereinafter "CONTU Report" ). To that end, Congress adopted CONTU's suggestions and amended the Copyright Act by adding, among other things, a provision to 17 U.S.C. § 101 which defined the term "computer program." See Pub.L. No. 96-517, § 10(a), 94 Stat. [704] 3028 (1980). CONTU also "concluded that the idea-expression distinction should be used to determine which aspects of computer programs are copyrightable." Lotus Dev. Corp., 740 F.Supp. at 54 (citing CONTU Report, at 44).

      74

      Drawing the line between idea and expression is a tricky business. Judge Learned Hand noted that "[n]obody has ever been able to fix that boundary, and nobody ever can." Nichols, 45 F.2d at 121. Thirty years later his convictions remained firm. "Obviously, no principle can be stated as to when an imitator has gone beyond copying the 'idea,' and has borrowed its 'expression,' " Judge Hand concluded. "Decisions must therefore inevitably be ad hoc." Peter Pan Fabrics, Inc. v. Martin Weiner Corp., 274 F.2d 487, 489 (2d Cir.1960).

      75

      The essentially utilitarian nature of a computer program further complicates the task of distilling its idea from its expression. See SAS Inst., 605 F.Supp. at 829; cf. Englund, at 893. In order to describe both computational processes and abstract ideas, its content "combines creative and technical expression." See Spivack, at 755. The variations of expression found in purely creative compositions, as opposed to those contained in utilitarian works, are not directed towards practical application. For example, a narration of Humpty Dumpty's demise, which would clearly be a creative composition, does not serve the same ends as, say, a recipe for scrambled eggs--which is a more process oriented text. Thus, compared to aesthetic works, computer programs hover even more closely to the elusive boundary line described in § 102(b).

      76

      The doctrinal starting point in analyses of utilitarian works, is the seminal case of Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99, 25 L.Ed. 841 (1879). In Baker, the Supreme Court faced the question of "whether the exclusive property in a system of bookkeeping can be claimed, under the law of copyright, by means of a book in which that system is explained?" Id. at 101. Selden had copyrighted a book that expounded a particular method of bookkeeping. The book contained lined pages with headings intended to illustrate the manner in which the system operated. Baker's accounting publication included ledger sheets that employed "substantially the same ruled lines and headings...." Id. Selden's testator sued Baker for copyright infringement on the theory that the ledger sheets were protected by Selden's copyright.

      77

      The Supreme Court found nothing copyrightable in Selden's bookkeeping system, and rejected his infringement claim regarding the ledger sheets. The Court held that:

      78

      The fact that the art described in the book by illustrations of lines and figures which are reproduced in practice in the application of the art, makes no difference. Those illustrations are the mere language employed by the author to convey his ideas more clearly. Had he used words of description instead of diagrams (which merely stand in the place of words), there could not be the slightest doubt that others, applying the art to practical use, might lawfully draw the lines and diagrams which were in the author's mind, and which he thus described by words in his book.

      The copyright of a work on mathematical science cannot give to the author an exclusive right to the methods of operation which he propounds, or to the diagrams which he employs to explain them, so as to prevent an engineer from using them whenever occasion requires.

      79

      Id. at 103.

      80

      To the extent that an accounting text and a computer program are both "a set of statements or instructions ... to bring about a certain result," 17 U.S.C. § 101, they are roughly analogous. In the former case, the processes are ultimately conducted by human agency; in the latter, by electronic means. In either case, as already stated, the processes themselves are not protectable. But the holding in Baker goes farther. The Court concluded that those aspects of a work, which "must necessarily be used as incident to" the idea, system or process that the work describes, are also not copyrightable. 101 U.S. at 104. Selden's ledger sheets, therefore, enjoyed [705] no copyright protection because they were "necessary incidents to" the system of accounting that he described. Id. at 103. From this reasoning, we conclude that those elements of a computer program that are necessarily incidental to its function are similarly unprotectable.

      81

      While Baker v. Selden provides a sound analytical foundation, it offers scant guidance on how to separate idea or process from expression, and moreover, on how to further distinguish protectable expression from that expression which "must necessarily be used as incident to" the work's underlying concept. In the context of computer programs, the Third Circuit's noted decision in Whelan has, thus far, been the most thoughtful attempt to accomplish these ends.

      82

      The court in Whelan faced substantially the same problem as is presented by this case. There, the defendant was accused of making off with the non-literal structure of the plaintiff's copyrighted dental lab management program, and employing it to create its own competitive version. In assessing whether there had been an infringement, the court had to determine which aspects of the programs involved were ideas, and which were expression. In separating the two, the court settled upon the following conceptual approach:

      83

      [T]he line between idea and expression may be drawn with reference to the end sought to be achieved by the work in question. In other words, the purpose or function of a utilitarian work would be the work's idea, and everything that is not necessary to that purpose or function would be part of the expression of the idea.... Where there are various means of achieving the desired purpose, then the particular means chosen is not necessary to the purpose; hence, there is expression, not idea.

      84

      797 F.2d at 1236 (citations omitted). The "idea" of the program at issue in Whelan was identified by the court as simply "the efficient management of a dental laboratory." Id. at n. 28.

      85

      So far, in the courts, the Whelan rule has received a mixed reception. While some decisions have adopted its reasoning, see, e.g., Bull HN Info. Sys., Inc. v. American Express Bank, Ltd., 1990 Copyright Law Dec. (CCH) p 26,555 at 23,278, 1990 WL 48098 (S.D.N.Y.1990); Dynamic Solutions, Inc. v. Planning & Control, Inc., 1987 Copyright Law Dec. (CCH) p 26,062 at 20,912, 1987 WL 6419 (S.D.N.Y.1987); Broderbund Software Inc. v. Unison World, Inc., 648 F.Supp. 1127, 1133 (N.D.Cal.1986), others have rejected it, see Plains Cotton Co-op v. Goodpasture Computer Serv., Inc., 807 F.2d 1256, 1262 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 821, 108 S.Ct. 80, 98 L.Ed.2d 42 (1987); cf. Synercom Technology, Inc. v. University Computing Co., 462 F.Supp. 1003, 1014 (N.D.Tex.1978) (concluding that order and sequence of data on computer input formats was idea not expression).

      86

      Whelan has fared even more poorly in the academic community, where its standard for distinguishing idea from expression has been widely criticized for being conceptually overbroad. See, e.g., Englund, at 881; Menell, at 1074, 1082; Kretschmer, at 837-39; Spivack, at 747-55; Thomas M. Gage, Note, Whelan Associates v. Jaslow Dental Laboratories: Copyright Protection for Computer Software Structure--What's the Purpose?, 1987 WIS.L.REV. 859, 860-61 (1987). The leading commentator in the field has stated that "[t]he crucial flaw in [Whelan 's] reasoning is that it assumes that only one 'idea,' in copyright law terms, underlies any computer program, and that once a separable idea can be identified, everything else must be expression." 3 Nimmer § 13.03(F), at 13-62.34. This criticism focuses not upon the program's ultimate purpose but upon the reality of its structural design. As we have already noted, a computer program's ultimate function or purpose is the composite result of interacting subroutines. Since each subroutine is itself a program, and thus, may be said to have its own "idea," Whelan 's general formulation that a program's overall purpose equates with the program's idea is descriptively inadequate.

      87

      Accordingly, we think that Judge Pratt wisely declined to follow Whelan. See [706] Computer Assocs., 775 F.Supp. at 558-60. In addition to noting the weakness in the Whelan definition of "program-idea," mentioned above, Judge Pratt found that Whelan 's synonymous use of the terms "structure, sequence, and organization," see Whelan, 797 F.2d at 1224 n. 1, demonstrated a flawed understanding of a computer program's method of operation. See Computer Assocs., 775 F.Supp. at 559-60 (discussing the distinction between a program's "static structure" and "dynamic structure"). Rightly, the district court found Whelan 's rationale suspect because it is so closely tied to what can now be seen--with the passage of time--as the opinion's somewhat outdated appreciation of computer science.

      88
      2) Substantial Similarity Test for Computer Program Structure: Abstraction-Filtration-Comparison
      89

      We think that Whelan 's approach to separating idea from expression in computer programs relies too heavily on metaphysical distinctions and does not place enough emphasis on practical considerations. Cf. Apple Computer, 714 F.2d at 1253 (rejecting certain commercial constraints on programming as a helpful means of distinguishing idea from expression because they did "not enter into the somewhat metaphysical issue of whether particular ideas and expressions have merged"). As the cases that we shall discuss demonstrate, a satisfactory answer to this problem cannot be reached by resorting, a priori, to philosophical first principals.

      90

      As discussed herein, we think that district courts would be well-advised to undertake a three-step procedure, based on the abstractions test utilized by the district court, in order to determine whether the non-literal elements of two or more computer programs are substantially similar. This approach breaks no new ground; rather, it draws on such familiar copyright doctrines as merger, scenes a faire, and public domain. In taking this approach, however, we are cognizant that computer technology is a dynamic field which can quickly outpace judicial decisionmaking. Thus, in cases where the technology in question does not allow for a literal application of the procedure we outline below, our opinion should not be read to foreclose the district courts of our circuit from utilizing a modified version.

      91

      In ascertaining substantial similarity under this approach, a court would first break down the allegedly infringed program into its constituent structural parts. Then, by examining each of these parts for such things as incorporated ideas, expression that is necessarily incidental to those ideas, and elements that are taken from the public domain, a court would then be able to sift out all non-protectable material. Left with a kernel, or possible kernels, of creative expression after following this process of elimination, the court's last step would be to compare this material with the structure of an allegedly infringing program. The result of this comparison will determine whether the protectable elements of the programs at issue are substantially similar so as to warrant a finding of infringement. It will be helpful to elaborate a bit further.

      92

      Step One: Abstraction

      93

      As the district court appreciated, see Computer Assocs., 775 F.Supp. at 560, the theoretic framework for analyzing substantial similarity expounded by Learned Hand in the Nichols case is helpful in the present context. In Nichols, we enunciated what has now become known as the "abstractions" test for separating idea from expression:

      94

      Upon any work ... a great number of patterns of increasing generality will fit equally well, as more and more of the incident is left out. The last may perhaps be no more than the most general statement of what the [work] is about, and at times might consist only of its title; but there is a point in this series of abstractions where they are no longer protected, since otherwise the [author] could prevent the use of his "ideas," to which, apart from their expression, his property is never extended.

      95

      Nichols, 45 F.2d at 121.

      96

      While the abstractions test was originally applied in relation to literary works such [707] as novels and plays, it is adaptable to computer programs. In contrast to the Whelan approach, the abstractions test "implicitly recognizes that any given work may consist of a mixture of numerous ideas and expressions." 3 Nimmer § 13.03[F], at 13-62.34-63.

      97

      As applied to computer programs, the abstractions test will comprise the first step in the examination for substantial similarity. Initially, in a manner that resembles reverse engineering on a theoretical plane, a court should dissect the allegedly copied program's structure and isolate each level of abstraction contained within it. This process begins with the code and ends with an articulation of the program's ultimate function. Along the way, it is necessary essentially to retrace and map each of the designer's steps--in the opposite order in which they were taken during the program's creation. See Background: Computer Program Design, supra.

      98

      As an anatomical guide to this procedure, the following description is helpful:

      99

      At the lowest level of abstraction, a computer program may be thought of in its entirety as a set of individual instructions organized into a hierarchy of modules. At a higher level of abstraction, the instructions in the lowest-level modules may be replaced conceptually by the functions of those modules. At progressively higher levels of abstraction, the functions of higher-level modules conceptually replace the implementations of those modules in terms of lower-level modules and instructions, until finally, one is left with nothing but the ultimate function of the program.... A program has structure at every level of abstraction at which it is viewed. At low levels of abstraction, a program's structure may be quite complex; at the highest level it is trivial.

      100

      Englund, at 897-98; cf. Spivack, at 774.

      101

      Step Two: Filtration

      102

      Once the program's abstraction levels have been discovered, the substantial similarity inquiry moves from the conceptual to the concrete. Professor Nimmer suggests, and we endorse, a "successive filtering method" for separating protectable expression from non-protectable material. See generally 3 Nimmer § 13.03[F]. This process entails examining the structural components at each level of abstraction to determine whether their particular inclusion at that level was "idea" or was dictated by considerations of efficiency, so as to be necessarily incidental to that idea; required by factors external to the program itself; or taken from the public domain and hence is nonprotectable expression. See also Kretschmer, at 844-45 (arguing that program features dictated by market externalities or efficiency concerns are unprotectable). The structure of any given program may reflect some, all, or none of these considerations. Each case requires its own fact specific investigation.

      103

      Strictly speaking, this filtration serves "the purpose of defining the scope of plaintiff's copyright." Brown Bag Software v. Symantec Corp., 960 F.2d 1465, 1475 (9th Cir.) (endorsing "analytic dissection" of computer programs in order to isolate protectable expression), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 113 S.Ct. 198, 121 L.Ed.2d 141 (1992). By applying well developed doctrines of copyright law, it may ultimately leave behind a "core of protectable material." 3 Nimmer § 13.03[F], at 13-72. Further explication of this second step may be helpful.

      104
      (a) Elements Dictated by Efficiency
      105

      The portion of Baker v. Selden, discussed earlier, which denies copyright protection to expression necessarily incidental to the idea being expressed, appears to be the cornerstone for what has developed into the doctrine of merger. See Morrissey v. Proctor & Gamble Co., 379 F.2d 675, 678-79 (1st Cir.1967) (relying on Baker for the proposition that expression embodying the rules of a sweepstakes contest was inseparable from the idea of the contest itself, and therefore were not protectable by copyright); see also Digital Communications, 659 F.Supp. at 457. The doctrine's underlying principle is that "[w]hen there is essentially only one way to express an idea, the idea and its expression are inseparable [708] and copyright is no bar to copying that expression." Concrete Machinery Co. v. Classic Lawn Ornaments, Inc., 843 F.2d 600, 606 (1st Cir.1988). Under these circumstances, the expression is said to have "merged" with the idea itself. In order not to confer a monopoly of the idea upon the copyright owner, such expression should not be protected. See Herbert Rosenthal Jewelry Corp. v. Kalpakian, 446 F.2d 738, 742 (9th Cir.1971).

      106

      CONTU recognized the applicability of the merger doctrine to computer programs. In its report to Congress it stated that:

      107

      [C]opyrighted language may be copied without infringing when there is but a limited number of ways to express a given idea.... In the computer context, this means that when specific instructions, even though previously copyrighted, are the only and essential means of accomplishing a given task, their later use by another will not amount to infringement.

      108

      CONTU Report, at 20. While this statement directly concerns only the application of merger to program code, that is, the textual aspect of the program, it reasonably suggests that the doctrine fits comfortably within the general context of computer programs.

      109

      Furthermore, when one considers the fact that programmers generally strive to create programs "that meet the user's needs in the most efficient manner," Menell, at 1052, the applicability of the merger doctrine to computer programs becomes compelling. In the context of computer program design, the concept of efficiency is akin to deriving the most concise logical proof or formulating the most succinct mathematical computation. Thus, the more efficient a set of modules are, the more closely they approximate the idea or process embodied in that particular aspect of the program's structure.

      110

      While, hypothetically, there might be a myriad of ways in which a programmer may effectuate certain functions within a program,--i.e., express the idea embodied in a given subroutine--efficiency concerns may so narrow the practical range of choice as to make only one or two forms of expression workable options. See 3 Nimmer § 13.03[F], at 13-63; see also Whelan, 797 F.2d at 1243 n. 43 ("It is true that for certain tasks there are only a very limited number of file structures available, and in such cases the structures might not be copyrightable...."). Of course, not all program structure is informed by efficiency concerns. See Menell, at 1052 (besides efficiency, simplicity related to user accommodation has become a programming priority). It follows that in order to determine whether the merger doctrine precludes copyright protection to an aspect of a program's structure that is so oriented, a court must inquire "whether the use of this particular set of modules is necessary efficiently to implement that part of the program's process" being implemented. Englund, at 902. If the answer is yes, then the expression represented by the programmer's choice of a specific module or group of modules has merged with their underlying idea and is unprotected. Id. at 902-03.

      111

      Another justification for linking structural economy with the application of the merger doctrine stems from a program's essentially utilitarian nature and the competitive forces that exist in the software marketplace. See Kretschmer, at 842. Working in tandem, these factors give rise to a problem of proof which merger helps to eliminate.

      112

      Efficiency is an industry-wide goal. Since, as we have already noted, there may be only a limited number of efficient implementations for any given program task, it is quite possible that multiple programmers, working independently, will design the identical method employed in the allegedly infringed work. Of course, if this is the case, there is no copyright infringement. See Roth Greeting Cards v. United Card Co., 429 F.2d 1106, 1110 (9th Cir.1970); Sheldon, 81 F.2d at 54.

      113

      Under these circumstances, the fact that two programs contain the same efficient structure may as likely lead to an inference of independent creation as it does to one of copying. See 3 Nimmer § 13.03[F], at 13-65; cf. Herbert Rosenthal [709] Jewelry Corp., 446 F.2d at 741 (evidence of independent creation may stem from defendant's standing as a designer of previous similar works). Thus, since evidence of similarly efficient structure is not particularly probative of copying, it should be disregarded in the overall substantial similarity analysis. See 3 Nimmer § 13.03[F], at 13-65.

      114

      We find support for applying the merger doctrine in cases that have already addressed the question of substantial similarity in the context of computer program structure. Most recently, in Lotus Dev. Corp., 740 F.Supp. at 66, the district court had before it a claim of copyright infringement relating to the structure of a computer spreadsheet program. The court observed that "the basic spreadsheet screen display that resembles a rotated 'L' ..., if not present in every expression of such a program, is present in most expressions." Id. Similarly, the court found that "an essential detail present in most if not all expressions of an electronic spreadsheet--is the designation of a particular key that, when pressed, will invoke the menu command system." Id. Applying the merger doctrine, the court denied copyright protection to both program elements.

      115

      In Manufacturers Technologies, Inc. v. Cams, Inc., 706 F.Supp. 984, 995-99 (D.Conn.1989), the infringement claims stemmed from various alleged program similarities "as indicated in their screen displays." Id. at 990. Stressing efficiency concerns in the context of a merger analysis, the court determined that the program's method of allowing the user to navigate within the screen displays was not protectable because, in part, "the process or manner of navigating internally on any specific screen displays ... is limited in the number of ways it may be simply achieved to facilitate user comfort." Id. at 995.

      116

      The court also found that expression contained in various screen displays (in the form of alphabetical and numerical columns) was not the proper subject of copyright protection because it was "necessarily incident to the idea[s]" embodied in the displays. Id. at 996-97. Cf. Digital Communications, 659 F.Supp. at 460 (finding no merger and affording copyright protection to program's status screen display because "modes of expression chosen ... are clearly not necessary to the idea of the status screen").

      117

      We agree with the approach taken in these decisions, and conclude that application of the merger doctrine in this setting is an effective way to eliminate non-protectable expression contained in computer programs.

      118
      (b) Elements Dictated By External Factors
      119

      We have stated that where "it is virtually impossible to write about a particular historical era or fictional theme without employing certain 'stock' or standard literary devices," such expression is not copyrightable. Hoehling v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 618 F.2d 972, 979 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 841, 101 S.Ct. 121, 66 L.Ed.2d 49 (1980). For example, the Hoehling case was an infringement suit stemming from several works on the Hindenberg disaster. There we concluded that similarities in representations of German beer halls, scenes depicting German greetings such as "Heil Hitler," or the singing of certain German songs would not lead to a finding of infringement because they were " 'indispensable, or at least standard, in the treatment of' " life in Nazi Germany. Id. (quoting Alexander v. Haley, 460 F.Supp. 40, 45 (S.D.N.Y.1978)). This is known as the scenes a faire doctrine, and like "merger," it has its analogous application to computer programs. Cf. Data East USA, 862 F.2d at 208 (applying scenes a faire to a home computer video game).

      120

      Professor Nimmer points out that "in many instances it is virtually impossible to write a program to perform particular functions in a specific computing environment without employing standard techniques." 3 Nimmer § 13.03[F], at 13-65. This is a result of the fact that a programmer's freedom of design choice is often circumscribed by extrinsic considerations such as (1) the mechanical specifications of the computer on which a particular program [710] is intended to run; (2) compatibility requirements of other programs with which a program is designed to operate in conjunction; (3) computer manufacturers' design standards; (4) demands of the industry being serviced; and (5) widely accepted programming practices within the computer industry. Id. at 13-66-71.

      121

      Courts have already considered some of these factors in denying copyright protection to various elements of computer programs. In the Plains Cotton case, the Fifth Circuit refused to reverse the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction against an alleged program infringer because, in part, "many of the similarities between the ... programs [were] dictated by the externalities of the cotton market." 807 F.2d at 1262.

      122

      In Manufacturers Technologies, the district court noted that the program's method of screen navigation "is influenced by the type of hardware that the software is designed to be used on." 706 F.Supp. at 995. Because, in part, "the functioning of the hardware package impact[ed] and constrain[ed] the type of navigational tools used in plaintiff's screen displays," the court denied copyright protection to that aspect of the program. Id.; cf. Data East USA, 862 F.2d at 209 (reversing a district court's finding of audiovisual work infringement because, inter alia, "the use of the Commodore computer for a karate game intended for home consumption is subject to various constraints inherent in the use of that computer").

      123

      Finally, the district court in Q-Co Industries rested its holding on what, perhaps, most closely approximates a traditional scenes a faire rationale. There, the court denied copyright protection to four program modules employed in a teleprompter program. This decision was ultimately based upon the court's finding that "the same modules would be an inherent part of any prompting program." 625 F.Supp. at 616.

      124

      Building upon this existing case law, we conclude that a court must also examine the structural content of an allegedly infringed program for elements that might have been dictated by external factors.

      125
      (c) Elements taken From the Public Domain
      126

      Closely related to the non-protectability of scenes a faire, is material found in the public domain. Such material is free for the taking and cannot be appropriated by a single author even though it is included in a copyrighted work. See E.F. Johnson Co. v. Uniden Corp. of America, 623 F.Supp. 1485, 1499 (D.Minn.1985); see also Sheldon, 81 F.2d at 54. We see no reason to make an exception to this rule for elements of a computer program that have entered the public domain by virtue of freely accessible program exchanges and the like. See 3 Nimmer § 13.03[F]; see also Brown Bag Software, 960 F.2d at 1473 (affirming the district court's finding that " '[p]laintiffs may not claim copyright protection of an ... expression that is, if not standard, then commonplace in the computer software industry.' "). Thus, a court must also filter out this material from the allegedly infringed program before it makes the final inquiry in its substantial similarity analysis.

      127

      Step Three: Comparison

      128

      The third and final step of the test for substantial similarity that we believe appropriate for non-literal program components entails a comparison. Once a court has sifted out all elements of the allegedly infringed program which are "ideas" or are dictated by efficiency or external factors, or taken from the public domain, there may remain a core of protectable expression. In terms of a work's copyright value, this is the golden nugget. See Brown Bag Software, 960 F.2d at 1475. At this point, the court's substantial similarity inquiry focuses on whether the defendant copied any aspect of this protected expression, as well as an assessment of the copied portion's relative importance with respect to the plaintiff's overall program. See 3 Nimmer § 13.03[F]; Data East USA, 862 F.2d at 208 ("To determine whether similarities result from unprotectable expression, analytic dissection of similarities may be [711] performed. If ... all similarities in expression arise from use of common ideas, then no substantial similarity can be found.").

      129
      3) Policy Considerations
      130

      We are satisfied that the three step approach we have just outlined not only comports with, but advances the constitutional policies underlying the Copyright Act. Since any method that tries to distinguish idea from expression ultimately impacts on the scope of copyright protection afforded to a particular type of work, "the line [it draws] must be a pragmatic one, which also keeps in consideration 'the preservation of the balance between competition and protection....' " Apple Computer, 714 F.2d at 1253 (citation omitted).

      131

      CA and some amici argue against the type of approach that we have set forth on the grounds that it will be a disincentive for future computer program research and development. At bottom, they claim that if programmers are not guaranteed broad copyright protection for their work, they will not invest the extensive time, energy and funds required to design and improve program structures. While they have a point, their argument cannot carry the day. The interest of the copyright law is not in simply conferring a monopoly on industrious persons, but in advancing the public welfare through rewarding artistic creativity, in a manner that permits the free use and development of non-protectable ideas and processes.

      132

      In this respect, our conclusion is informed by Justice Stewart's concise discussion of the principles that correctly govern the adaptation of the copyright law to new circumstances. In Twentieth Century Music Corp. v. Aiken, he wrote:

      133

      The limited scope of the copyright holder's statutory monopoly, like the limited copyright duration required by the Constitution, reflects a balance of competing claims upon the public interest: Creative work is to be encouraged and rewarded, but private motivation must ultimately serve the cause of promoting broad public availability of literature, music, and the other arts.

      The immediate effect of our copyright law is to secure a fair return for an "author's" creative labor. But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good.... When technological change has rendered its literal terms ambiguous, the Copyright Act must be construed in light of this basic purpose.

      134

      422 U.S. 151, 156, 95 S.Ct. 2040, 2043-44, 45 L.Ed.2d 84 (1975) (citations and footnotes omitted).

      135

      Recently, the Supreme Court has emphatically reiterated that "[t]he primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors...." Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., --- U.S. ----, ----, 111 S.Ct. 1282, 1290, 113 L.Ed.2d 358 (1991) (emphasis added). While the Feist decision deals primarily with the copyrightability of purely factual compilations, its underlying tenets apply to much of the work involved in computer programming. Feist put to rest the "sweat of the brow" doctrine in copyright law. Id. at ----, 111 S.Ct. at 1295. The rationale of that doctrine "was that copyright was a reward for the hard work that went into compiling facts." Id. at ----, 111 S.Ct. at 1291. The Court flatly rejected this justification for extending copyright protection, noting that it "eschewed the most fundamental axiom of copyright law--that no one may copyright facts or ideas." Id.

      136

      Feist teaches that substantial effort alone cannot confer copyright status on an otherwise uncopyrightable work. As we have discussed, despite the fact that significant labor and expense often goes into computer program flow-charting and debugging, that process does not always result in inherently protectable expression. Thus, Feist implicitly undercuts the Whelan rationale, "which allow[ed] copyright protection beyond the literal computer code ... [in order to] provide the proper incentive for programmers by protecting their most valuable efforts...." Whelan, 797 F.2d at 1237 (footnote omitted). We note that Whelan was decided prior to Feist when the "sweat of the brow" doctrine still had vitality. In view of the Supreme [712] Court's recent holding, however, we must reject the legal basis of CA's disincentive argument.

      137

      Furthermore, we are unpersuaded that the test we approve today will lead to the dire consequences for the computer program industry that plaintiff and some amici predict. To the contrary, serious students of the industry have been highly critical of the sweeping scope of copyright protection engendered by the Whelan rule, in that it "enables first comers to 'lock up' basic programming techniques as implemented in programs to perform particular tasks." Menell, at 1087; see also Spivack, at 765 (Whelan "results in an inhibition of creation by virtue of the copyright owner's quasi-monopoly power").

      138

      To be frank, the exact contours of copyright protection for non-literal program structure are not completely clear. We trust that as future cases are decided, those limits will become better defined. Indeed, it may well be that the Copyright Act serves as a relatively weak barrier against public access to the theoretical interstices behind a program's source and object codes. This results from the hybrid nature of a computer program, which, while it is literary expression, is also a highly functional, utilitarian component in the larger process of computing.

      139

      Generally, we think that copyright registration--with its indiscriminating availability--is not ideally suited to deal with the highly dynamic technology of computer science. Thus far, many of the decisions in this area reflect the courts' attempt to fit the proverbial square peg in a round hole. The district court, see Computer Assocs., 775 F.Supp. at 560, and at least one commentator have suggested that patent registration, with its exacting up-front novelty and non-obviousness requirements, might be the more appropriate rubric of protection for intellectual property of this kind. See Randell M. Whitmeyer, Comment, A Plea for Due Processes: Defining the Proper Scope of Patent Protection for Computer Software, 85 Nw.U.L.REV. 1103, 1123-25 (1991); see also Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., 788 F.Supp. 78, 91 (D.Mass.1992) (discussing the potentially supplemental relationship between patent and copyright protection in the context of computer programs). In any event, now that more than 12 years have passed since CONTU issued its final report, the resolution of this specific issue could benefit from further legislative investigation--perhaps a CONTU II.

      140

      In the meantime, Congress has made clear that computer programs are literary works entitled to copyright protection. Of course, we shall abide by these instructions, but in so doing we must not impair the overall integrity of copyright law. While incentive based arguments in favor of broad copyright protection are perhaps attractive from a pure policy perspective, see Lotus Dev. Corp., 740 F.Supp. at 58, ultimately, they have a corrosive effect on certain fundamental tenets of copyright doctrine. If the test we have outlined results in narrowing the scope of protection, as we expect it will, that result flows from applying, in accordance with Congressional intent, long-standing principles of copyright law to computer programs. Of course, our decision is also informed by our concern that these fundamental principles remain undistorted.

      141
      B. The District Court Decision
      142

      We turn now to our review of the district court's decision in this particular case. At the outset, we must address CA's claim that the district court erred by relying too heavily on the court appointed expert's "personal opinions on the factual and legal issues before the court."

      143

      1) Use of Expert Evidence in Determining Substantial Similarity Between Computer Programs

      144

      Pursuant to Fed.R.Evid. 706, and with the consent of both Altai and CA, Judge Pratt appointed and relied upon Dr. Randall Davis of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as the court's own expert witness on the issue of substantial similarity. Dr. Davis submitted a comprehensive written report that analyzed the various aspects of the computer programs [713] at issue and evaluated the parties' expert evidence. At trial, Dr. Davis was extensively cross-examined by both CA and Altai.

      145

      The well-established general rule in this circuit has been to limit the use of expert opinion in determining whether works at issue are substantially similar. As a threshold matter, expert testimony may be used to assist the fact finder in ascertaining whether the defendant had copied any part of the plaintiff's work. See Arnstein v. Porter, 154 F.2d 464, 468 (2d Cir.1946). To this end, "the two works are to be compared in their entirety ... [and] in making such comparison resort may properly be made to expert analysis...." 3 Nimmer § 13.03[E], at 13-62.16.

      146

      However, once some amount of copying has been established, it remains solely for the trier of fact to determine whether the copying was "illicit," that is to say, whether the "defendant took from plaintiff's works so much of what is pleasing to [lay observers] who comprise the audience for whom such [works are] composed, that defendant wrongfully appropriated something which belongs to the plaintiff." Arnstein, 154 F.2d at 473. Since the test for illicit copying is based upon the response of ordinary lay observers, expert testimony is thus "irrelevant" and not permitted. Id. at 468, 473. We have subsequently described this method of inquiry as "merely an alternative way of formulating the issue of substantial similarity." Ideal Toy Corp. v. Fab-Lu Ltd. (Inc.), 360 F.2d 1021, 1023 n. 2 (2d Cir.1966).

      147

      Historically, Arnstein 's ordinary observer standard had its roots in "an attempt to apply the 'reasonable person' doctrine as found in other areas of the law to copyright." 3 Nimmer § 13.03[E], at 13-62.10-11. That approach may well have served its purpose when the material under scrutiny was limited to art forms readily comprehensible and generally familiar to the average lay person. However, in considering the extension of the rule to the present case, we are reminded of Holmes' admonition that, "[t]he life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience." O.W. Holmes, Jr., THE COMMON LAW 1 (1881).

      148

      Thus, in deciding the limits to which expert opinion may be employed in ascertaining the substantial similarity of computer programs, we cannot disregard the highly complicated and technical subject matter at the heart of these claims. Rather, we recognize the reality that computer programs are likely to be somewhat impenetrable by lay observers--whether they be judges or juries--and, thus, seem to fall outside the category of works contemplated by those who engineered the Arnstein test. Cf. Dawson v. Hinshaw Music Inc., 905 F.2d 731, 737 (4th Cir.) ("departure from the lay characterization is warranted only where the intended audience possesses 'specialized expertise' "), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 981, 111 S.Ct. 511, 112 L.Ed.2d 523 (1990). As Judge Pratt correctly observed:

      149

      In the context of computer programs, many of the familiar tests of similarity prove to be inadequate, for they were developed historically in the context of artistic and literary, rather than utilitarian, works.

      150

      Computer Assocs., 775 F.Supp. at 558.

      151

      In making its finding on substantial similarity with respect to computer programs, we believe that the trier of fact need not be limited by the strictures of its own lay perspective. See Dawson, 905 F.2d at 735; Whelan, 797 F.2d at 1233; Broderbund, 648 F.Supp. at 1136 (stating in dictum: "an integrated test involving expert testimony and analytic dissection may well be the wave of the future in this area...."); Brown Bag Software, 960 F.2d at 1478-79 (Sneed, J., concurring); see also 3 Nimmer § 13.03[E]; but see Brown Bag Software, 960 F.2d at 1475 (applying the "ordinary reasonable person" standard in substantial similarity test for computer programs). Rather, we leave it to the discretion of the district court to decide to what extent, if any, expert opinion, regarding the highly technical nature of computer programs, is warranted in a given case.

      152

      In so holding, we do not intend to disturb the traditional role of lay observers in judging [714] substantial similarity in copyright cases that involve the aesthetic arts, such as music, visual works or literature.

      153

      In this case, Dr. Davis' opinion was instrumental in dismantling the intricacies of computer science so that the court could formulate and apply an appropriate rule of law. While Dr. Davis' report and testimony undoubtedly shed valuable light on the subject matter of the litigation, Judge Pratt remained, in the final analysis, the trier of fact. The district court's use of the expert's assistance, in the context of this case, was entirely appropriate.

      154
      2) Evidentiary Analysis
      155

      The district court had to determine whether Altai's OSCAR 3.5 program was substantially similar to CA's ADAPTER. We note that Judge Pratt's method of analysis effectively served as a road map for our own, with one exception--Judge Pratt filtered out the non-copyrightable aspects of OSCAR 3.5 rather than those found in ADAPTER, the allegedly infringed program. We think that our approach--i.e., filtering out the unprotected aspects of an allegedly infringed program and then comparing the end product to the structure of the suspect program--is preferable, and therefore believe that district courts should proceed in this manner in future cases.

      156

      We opt for this strategy because, in some cases, the defendant's program structure might contain protectable expression and/or other elements that are not found in the plaintiff's program. Since it is extraneous to the allegedly copied work, this material would have no bearing on any potential substantial similarity between the two programs. Thus, its filtration would be wasteful and unnecessarily time consuming. Furthermore, by focusing the analysis on the infringing rather than on the infringed material, a court may mistakenly place too little emphasis on a quantitatively small misappropriation which is, in reality, a qualitatively vital aspect of the plaintiff's protectable expression.

      157

      The fact that the district court's analysis proceeded in the reverse order, however, had no material impact on the outcome of this case. Since Judge Pratt determined that OSCAR effectively contained no protectable expression whatsoever, the most serious charge that can be levelled against him is that he was overly thorough in his examination.

      158

      The district court took the first step in the analysis set forth in this opinion when it separated the program by levels of abstraction. The district court stated:

      159

      As applied to computer software programs, this abstractions test would progress in order of "increasing generality" from object code, to source code, to parameter lists, to services required, to general outline. In discussing the particular similarities, therefore, we shall focus on these levels.

      160

      Computer Assocs., 775 F.Supp. at 560. While the facts of a different case might require that a district court draw a more particularized blueprint of a program's overall structure, this description is a workable one for the case at hand.

      161

      Moving to the district court's evaluation of OSCAR 3.5's structural components, we agree with Judge Pratt's systematic exclusion of non-protectable expression. With respect to code, the district court observed that after the rewrite of OSCAR 3.4 to OSCAR 3.5, "there remained virtually no lines of code that were identical to ADAPTER." Id. at 561. Accordingly, the court found that the code "present[ed] no similarity at all." Id. at 562.

      162

      Next, Judge Pratt addressed the issue of similarity between the two programs' parameter lists and macros. He concluded that, viewing the conflicting evidence most favorably to CA, it demonstrated that "only a few of the lists and macros were similar to protected elements in ADAPTER; the others were either in the public domain or dictated by the functional demands of the program." Id. As discussed above, functional elements and elements taken from the public domain do not qualify for copyright protection. With respect to the few remaining parameter lists and macros, the district court could reasonably conclude that they did not warrant a [715] finding of infringement given their relative contribution to the overall program. See Warner Bros., Inc. v. American Broadcasting Cos., Inc., 720 F.2d 231, 242 (2d Cir.1983) (discussing de minimis exception which allows for literal copying of a small and usually insignificant portion of the plaintiff's work); 3 Nimmer § 13.03[F], at 13-74. In any event, the district court reasonably found that, for lack of persuasive evidence, CA failed to meet its burden of proof on whether the macros and parameter lists at issue were substantially similar. See Computer Assocs., 775 F.Supp. at 562.

      163

      The district court also found that the overlap exhibited between the list of services required for both ADAPTER and OSCAR 3.5 was "determined by the demands of the operating system and of the applications program to which it [was] to be linked through ADAPTER or OSCAR...." Id. In other words, this aspect of the program's structure was dictated by the nature of other programs with which it was designed to interact and, thus, is not protected by copyright.

      164

      Finally, in his infringement analysis, Judge Pratt accorded no weight to the similarities between the two programs' organizational charts, "because [the charts were] so simple and obvious to anyone exposed to the operation of the program[s]." Id. CA argues that the district court's action in this regard "is not consistent with copyright law"--that "obvious" expression is protected, and that the district court erroneously failed to realize this. However, to say that elements of a work are "obvious," in the manner in which the district court used the word, is to say that they "follow naturally from the work's theme rather than from the author's creativity." 3 Nimmer § 13.03[F], at 13-65. This is but one formulation of the scenes a faire doctrine, which we have already endorsed as a means of weeding out unprotectable expression.

      165

      CA argues, at some length, that many of the district court's factual conclusions regarding the creative nature of its program's components are simply wrong. Of course, we are limited in our review of factual findings to setting aside only those that we determine are clearly erroneous. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 52. Upon a thorough review of the voluminous record in this case, which is comprised of conflicting testimony and other highly technical evidence, we discern no error on the part of Judge Pratt, let alone clear error.

      166

      Since we accept Judge Pratt's factual conclusions and the results of his legal analysis, we affirm his denial of CA's copyright infringement claim based upon OSCAR 3.5. We emphasize that, like all copyright infringement cases, those that involve computer programs are highly fact specific. The amount of protection due structural elements, in any given case, will vary according to the protectable expression found to exist within the program at issue.

      167
      II. TRADE SECRET PREEMPTION
      168

      In its complaint, CA alleged that Altai misappropriated the trade secrets contained in the ADAPTER program. Prior to trial, while the proceedings were still before Judge Mishler, Altai moved to dismiss and for summary judgment on CA's trade secret misappropriation claim. Altai argued that section 301 of the Copyright Act preempted CA's state law cause of action. Judge Mishler denied Altai's motion, reasoning that " '[t]he elements of the tort of appropriation of trade secrets through the breach of contract or confidence by an employee are not the same as the elements of a claim of copyright infringement.' " Computer Assocs., 775 F.Supp. at 563.

      169

      The parties addressed the preemption issue again, both in pre- and post-trial briefs. Judge Pratt then reconsidered and reversed Judge Mishler's earlier ruling. The district court concluded that CA's trade secret claims were preempted because "CA--which is the master of its own case--has pleaded and proven facts which establish that one act constituted both copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets [namely, the] copying [716] of ADAPTER into OSCAR 3.4...." Id. at 565.

      170

      In our original opinion, Computer Assocs. Int'l, Inc. v. Altai, Inc., Nos. 91-7893, 91-7935, slip op. 4715, 4762-69, 1992 WL 139364 (2d Cir. June 22, 1992), we affirmed Judge Pratt's decision. CA petitioned for rehearing on this issue. In its petition for rehearing, CA brought to our attention portions of the record below that were not included in the appendix on appeal. CA argued that these documents, along with Judge Mishler's disposition of Altai's motion to dismiss and for summary judgment, established that CA advanced non-preempted trade secret misappropriation claims before both Judge Mishler and Judge Pratt. CA further contended that Judge Pratt failed to consider its theory that Altai was liable for wrongful acquisition of CA's trade secrets through Arney. Upon reconsideration, we have granted the petition for rehearing, withdrawn our initial opinion, and conclude in this amended opinion that the district court's preemption ruling on CA's trade secret claims should be vacated. We accordingly vacate the judgment of the district court on this point and remand CA's trade secret claims for a determination on the merits.

      171
      A. General Law of Copyright Preemption Regarding Trade Secrets and Computer Programs
      172

      Congress carefully designed the statutory framework of federal copyright preemption. In order to insure that the enforcement of these rights remains solely within the federal domain, section 301(a) of the Copyright Act expressly preempts

      173

      all legal or equitable rights that are equivalent to any of the exclusive rights within the general scope of copyright as specified by section 106 in works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression and come within the subject matter of copyright as specified by sections 102 and 103....

      174

      17 U.S.C. § 301(a). This sweeping displacement of state law is, however, limited by section 301(b), which provides, in relevant part, that

      175

      [n]othing in this title annuls or limits any rights or remedies under the common law or statutes of any State with respect to ... activities violating legal or equitable rights that are not equivalent to any of the exclusive rights within the general scope of copyright as specified by section 106....

      176

      17 U.S.C. § 301(b)(3). Section 106, in turn, affords a copyright owner the exclusive right to: (1) reproduce the copyrighted work; (2) prepare derivative works; (3) distribute copies of the work by sale or otherwise; and, with respect to certain artistic works, (4) perform the work publicly; and (5) display the work publicly. See 17 U.S.C. § 106(1)-(5).

      177

      Section 301 thus preempts only those state law rights that "may be abridged by an act which, in and of itself, would infringe one of the exclusive rights" provided by federal copyright law. See Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enters., 723 F.2d 195, 200 (2d Cir.1983), rev'd on other grounds, 471 U.S. 539, 105 S.Ct. 2218, 85 L.Ed.2d 588 (1985). But if an "extra element" is "required instead of or in addition to the acts of reproduction, performance, distribution or display, in order to constitute a state-created cause of action, then the right does not lie 'within the general scope of copyright,' and there is no preemption." 1 Nimmer § 1.01[B], at 1-14-15; see also Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 723 F.2d at 200 (where state law right "is predicated upon an act incorporating elements beyond mere reproduction or the like, the [federal and state] rights are not equivalent" and there is no preemption).

      178

      A state law claim is not preempted if the "extra element" changes the "nature of the action so that it is qualitatively different from a copyright infringement claim." Mayer v. Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, Ltd., 601 F.Supp. 1523, 1535 (S.D.N.Y.1985); see Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 723 F.2d at 201. To determine whether a claim meets this standard, we must determine "what plaintiff seeks to protect, the theories in which the matter is thought to be protected and the rights sought to be enforced." 1 Roger M. Milgrim, Milgrim on Trade Secrets [717] § 2.06A, at 2-150 (1992) (hereinafter "Milgrim"). An action will not be saved from preemption by elements such as awareness or intent, which alter "the action's scope but not its nature...." Mayer, 601 F.Supp. at 1535.

      179

      Following this "extra element" test, we have held that unfair competition and misappropriation claims grounded solely in the copying of a plaintiff's protected expression are preempted by section 301. See, e.g., Walker v. Time Life Films, Inc., 784 F.2d 44, 53 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1159, 106 S.Ct. 2278, 90 L.Ed.2d 721 (1986); Warner Bros., Inc. v. American Broadcasting Cos., 720 F.2d 231, 247 (2d Cir.1983); Durham Indus., Inc. v. Tomy Corp., 630 F.2d 905, 919 & n. 15 (2d Cir.1980). We also have held to be preempted a tortious interference with contract claim grounded in the impairment of a plaintiff's right under the Copyright Act to publish derivative works. See Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 723 F.2d at 201.

      180

      However, many state law rights that can arise in connection with instances of copyright infringement satisfy the extra element test, and thus are not preempted by section 301. These include unfair competition claims based upon breaches of confidential relationships, breaches of fiduciary duties and trade secrets. Balboa Ins. Co. v. Trans Global Equities, 218 Cal.App.3d 1327, 1339-53, 267 Cal.Rptr. 787, 793-803 (Ct.App. 3rd Dist.), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 111 S.Ct. 347, 112 L.Ed.2d 311 (1990).

      181

      Trade secret protection, the branch of unfair competition law at issue in this case, remains a "uniquely valuable" weapon in the defensive arsenal of computer programmers. See 1 Milgrim § 2.06A[c], at 2-172.4. Precisely because trade secret doctrine protects the discovery of ideas, processes, and systems which are explicitly precluded from coverage under copyright law, courts and commentators alike consider it a necessary and integral part of the intellectual property protection extended to computer programs. See id.; see also Integrated Cash Management Servs., Inc. v. Digital Transactions, Inc., 920 F.2d 171, 173 (2d Cir.1990) (while plaintiff withdrew copyright infringement claim for misappropriation of computer program, relief for theft of trade secret sustained); Healthcare Affiliated Servs., Inc. v. Lippany, 701 F.Supp. 1142, 1152-55 (W.D.Pa.1988) (finding likelihood of success on trade secret claim, but not copyright claim); Q-Co Indus., Inc., 625 F.Supp. at 616-18 (finding likelihood of success on trade secret claim, but no merit to copyright claim); Kretschmer, at 847-49.

      182

      The legislative history of section 301 states that "[t]he evolving common law rights of ... trade secrets ... would remain unaffected as long as the causes of action contain elements, such as ... a breach of trust or confidentiality, that are different in kind from copyright infringement." House Report, at 5748. Congress did not consider the term "misappropriation" to be "necessarily synonymous with copyright infringement," or to serve as the talisman of preemption. Id.

      183

      Trade secret claims often are grounded upon a defendant's breach of a duty of trust or confidence to the plaintiff through improper disclosure of confidential material. See, e.g., Mercer v. C.A. Roberts Co., 570 F.2d 1232, 1238 (5th Cir.1978); Brignoli v. Balch Hardy and Scheinman, Inc., 645 F.Supp. 1201, 1205 (S.D.N.Y.1986). The defendant's breach of duty is the gravamen of such trade secret claims, and supplies the "extra element" that qualitatively distinguishes such trade secret causes of action from claims for copyright infringement that are based solely upon copying. See, e.g., Warrington Assoc., Inc. v. Real-Time Eng'g Sys., Inc., 522 F.Supp. 367, 369 (N.D.Ill.1981); Brignoli, 645 F.Supp. at 1205; see also generally Balboa Ins. Co., 218 Cal.App.3d at 1346-50, 267 Cal.Rptr. at 798-802 (reviewing cases).

      184
      B. Preemption in this Case
      185

      The district court stated that:

      186

      Were CA's [trade secret] allegations premised on a theory of illegal acquisition of a trade secret, a charge that might have been alleged against Arney, who is not a defendant in this case, the [718] preemption analysis might be different, for there seems to be no corresponding right guaranteed to copyright owners by § 106 of the copyright act.

      187

      Computer Assocs., 775 F.Supp. at 565.

      188

      However, the court concluded that CA's trade secret claims were not grounded in a theory that Altai violated a duty of confidentiality to CA. Rather, Judge Pratt stated that CA proceeded against Altai solely "on a theory that the misappropriation took place by Altai's use of ADAPTER--the same theory as the copyright infringement count." Id. The district court reasoned that "the right to be free from trade secret misappropriation through 'use', and the right to exclusive reproduction and distribution of a copyrighted work are not distinguishable." Id. Because he concluded that there was no qualitative difference between the elements of CA's state law trade secret claims and a claim for federal copyright infringement, Judge Pratt ruled that CA's trade secret claims were preempted by section 301.

      189

      We agree with CA that the district court failed to address fully the factual and theoretical bases of CA's trade secret claims. The district court relied upon the fact that Arney--not Altai--allegedly breached a duty to CA of confidentiality by stealing secrets from CA and incorporating those secrets into OSCAR 3.4. However, under a wrongful acquisition theory based on Restatement (First) of Torts § 757 (1939), Williams and Altai may be liable for violating CA's right of confidentiality. Section 757 states in relevant part:

      190

      One who discloses or uses another's trade secret, without a privilege to do so, is liable to another if.... (c) he learned the secret from a third person with notice of the fact that it was a secret and that the third person discovered it by improper means or that the third person's disclosure of it was otherwise a breach of his duty to the other....

      191

      Actual notice is not required for such a third party acquisition claim; constructive notice is sufficient. A defendant is on constructive notice when, "from the information which he has, a reasonable man would infer [a breach of confidence], or if, under the circumstances, a reasonable man would be put on inquiry and an inquiry pursued with reasonable intelligence and diligence would disclose the [breach]." Id., comment 1; Metallurgical Indus., Inc. v. Fourtek, Inc., 790 F.2d 1195, 1204 (5th Cir.1986); Vantage Point, Inc. v. Parker Bros., Inc., 529 F.Supp. 1204, 1210 n. 2 (E.D.N.Y.1981), aff'd, 697 F.2d 301 (2d Cir.1982); see also Rohm and Haas Co. v. Adco Chem. Co., 689 F.2d 424, 431 (3rd Cir.1982) ("Defendants never asked where the 'Harvey process' had come from. Defendants therefore were charged 'with whatever knowledge such inquiry would have led to.' ") (citation omitted); Colgate-Palmolive Co. v. Carter Prods., Inc., 230 F.2d 855, 864 (4th Cir.) (per curiam) (defendant " 'must have known by the exercise of fair business principles' " that its employee's work was covered by an agreement not to disclose) (citation omitted), cert. denied, 352 U.S. 843, 77 S.Ct. 43, 1 L.Ed.2d 59 (1956); 1 Milgrim § 5.04[c].

      192

      We agree with the district court that New Jersey's governing governmental interest choice of law analysis directs the application of Texas law to CA's trade secret misappropriation claim. See Computer Assocs., 775 F.Supp. at 566. Texas law recognizes trade secret misappropriation claims grounded in the reasoning of Restatement section 757(c), see, e.g., Fourtek, 790 F.2d at 1204, and the facts alleged by CA may well support such a claim.

      193

      It is undisputed that, when Arney stole the ADAPTER code and incorporated it into his design of OSCAR 3.4, he breached his confidentiality agreement with CA. The district court noted that while such action might constitute a valid claim against Arney, CA is the named defendant in this lawsuit. Additionally, the district court found, as a matter of fact, that "[n]o one at Altai, other than Arney, knew that Arney had the ADAPTER code...." Computer Assocs., 775 F.Supp. at 554. However, the district court did not consider fully Altai's potential liability for improper trade secret acquisition. It did not consider the question of Altai's trade secret liability [719] in connection with OSCAR 3.4 under a constructive notice theory, or Altai's potential liability under an actual notice theory in connection with OSCAR 3.5.

      194

      The district court found that, prior to CA's bringing suit, Altai was not on actual notice of Arney's theft of trade secrets, and incorporation of those secrets into OSCAR 3.4. However, by virtue of Williams' close relationship with Arney, Williams' general familiarity with CA's programs (having once been employed by CA himself), and the fact that Arney used the ADAPTER program in an office at Altai adjacent to Williams during a period in which he had frequent contact with Williams regarding the OSCAR/VSE project, Williams (and through him Altai) may well have been on constructive notice of Arney's breach of his duty of confidentiality toward CA. The district court did not address whether Altai was on constructive notice, thereby placing it under a duty of inquiry; rather the court's finding that only Arney affirmatively knew of the theft of CA's trade secrets and incorporation of those secrets into OSCAR 3.4 simply disposed of the issue of actual notice in connection with the creation of OSCAR 3.4. CA's claim of liability based on constructive notice, never considered in the district court's opinion, must be determined on remand.

      195

      With respect to actual notice, it is undisputed that CA's first complaint, filed in August 1988, informed Altai of Arney's trade secret violations in connection with the creation of OSCAR 3.4. The first complaint alleged that Arney assisted in the development of ADAPTER, thereby obtaining knowledge of CA's related trade secrets. It also alleged that Altai misappropriated CA's trade secrets by incorporating them into ZEKE.

      196

      In response to CA's complaint, Altai rewrote OSCAR 3.4, creating OSCAR 3.5. While we agree with the district court that OSCAR 3.5 did not contain any expression protected by copyright, it may nevertheless still have embodied many of CA's trade secrets that Arney brought with him to Altai. Since Altai's rewrite was conducted with full knowledge of Arney's prior misappropriation, in breach of his duty of confidentiality, it follows that OSCAR 3.5 was created with actual knowledge of trade secret violations. Thus, with regard to OSCAR 3.5, CA has a viable trade secret claim against Altai that must be considered by the district court on remand. This claim is grounded in Altai's alleged use of CA's trade secrets in the creation of OSCAR 3.5, while on actual notice of Arney's theft of trade secrets and incorporation of those secrets into OSCAR 3.4. The district court correctly stated that a state law claim based solely upon Altai's "use", by copying, of ADAPTER's non-literal elements could not satisfy the governing "extra element" test, and would be preempted by section 301. However, where the use of copyrighted expression is simultaneously the violation of a duty of confidentiality established by state law, that extra element renders the state right qualitatively distinct from the federal right, thereby foreclosing preemption under section 301.

      197

      We are also convinced that CA adequately pled a wrongful acquisition claim before Judge Mishler and Judge Pratt. In ruling that CA failed to properly plead a non-preempted claim, Judge Pratt relied heavily upon two allegations in CA's amended complaint. Id. at 563-64. They read as follows:

      198

      p 57. By reason of the facts stated in paragraph 39 and by copying from CA-SCHEDULER into ZEKE, ZACK and ZEBB the various elements stated in paragraphs 39-51, 54 and 55, defendant Altai has infringed [CA's] copyright in CA-SCHEDULER.

      * * * * * *

      p 73. Defendant's incorporation into its ZEKE, ZACK and ZEBB programs of the various elements contained in the ADAPTER component of [CA's] CA-SCHEDULER program as set out in paragraphs 39-51, 54 and 55 constitutes the willful misappropriation of the proprietary property and trade secrets of plaintiff [CA].

      199

      [720] From these pleadings, Judge Pratt concluded that the very same act, i.e., Altai's copying of various elements of CA's program, was the basis for both CA's copyright infringement and trade secret claims. See id. at 564. We agree with Judge Pratt that CA's allegations are somewhat inartfully stated. However, when taken together, the terms "incorporation" and "misappropriation" in paragraph 73 above suggest to us an act of a qualitatively different nature than the infringement pled in paragraph 57. House Report, at 5748 (" '[m]isappropriation' is not necessarily synonymous with copyright infringement").

      200

      In support of our reading, we note that paragraphs 65-75 of CA's amended complaint alleged facts that reasonably comprise the elements of a wrongful acquisition of trade secrets claim. CA averred that, while he was employed at CA, Arney learned CA's trade secrets regarding the ADAPTER program. CA further alleged that, after Arney went to work for Altai, Altai misappropriated those trade secrets by incorporating CA's ADAPTER program into its own product. Finally, CA claimed that the trade secret misappropriation was carried out "in a willful, wanton and reckless manner in disregard of [CA's] rights." In other words, Altai could have reasonably inferred from CA's allegations that CA's claim, in part, rested on Williams' "wanton and reckless" behavior in the face of constructive notice.

      201

      In addition, while responding to Altai's preemption argument in its motion to dismiss and for summary judgment, CA specifically argued in its brief to Judge Mishler that "it can easily be inferred that Mr. Arney was hired by Altai to misappropriate [CA's] confidential source code for Altai's benefit." At oral argument, CA further contended that:

      202

      The circumstances of Mr. Arney's hiring suggested that Mr. Williams wanted more than Mr. Arney's ability and in fact got exactly what he wanted. And that is Computer Associates' confidential Adapter technology.

      * * * * * *

      [Arney testified that he] surreptitiously took that code home from Computer Associates after giving notice he was going to go to work for Altai, and after being hired by Mr. Williams to come to Altai and reconstruct Zeke, to work on the MVS operating system.

      203

      In the aftermath of Judge Mishler's ruling in its favor on Altai's motion to dismiss and for summary judgment, CA reasonably believed that it had sufficiently alleged a non-preempted claim. And, in light of CA's arguments and Judge Mishler's ruling, Altai clearly was on notice that the amended complaint placed non-preempted trade secret claims in play. See 5 Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1215, at 136-38 (2d ed. 1990) (federal pleading standards require plaintiff to provide defendant with fair notice of claim and grounds it rests on).

      204

      Accordingly, we vacate the judgment of the district court and remand for reconsideration of those aspects of CA's trade secret claims related to Altai's alleged constructive notice of Arney's theft of CA's trade secrets and incorporation of those secrets into OSCAR 3.4. We note, however, that CA may be unable to recover damages for its trade secrets which are embodied in OSCAR 3.4 since Altai has conceded copyright liability and damages for its incorporation of ADAPTER into OSCAR 3.4. CA may not obtain a double recovery where the damages for copyright infringement and trade secret misappropriation are coextensive.

      205

      However, additional trade secret damages may well flow from CA's creation of OSCAR 3.5. Judge Pratt correctly acknowledged that "[i]f CA's claim of misappropriation of trade secrets did not fail on preemption grounds, it would be necessary to examine in some detail the conflicting claims and evidence relating to the process by which Altai rewrote OSCAR and ultimately produced version 3.5." Computer Assocs., 775 F.Supp. at 554-55; see also 1 Milgrim § 5.04[d], at 5-148 ("after notice, the [innocent] second user should cease the use, and if he does not he can be enjoined and held liable for damages arising from such use subsequent to notice"). Since we hold that CA's trade secret claims [721] are not preempted, and that, in writing OSCAR 3.5, Altai had actual notice of Arney's earlier trade secret violations, we vacate and remand for such further inquiry anticipated by the district court. If the district court finds that CA was injured by Altai's unlawful use of CA's trade secrets in creating OSCAR 3.5, CA is entitled to an award of damages for trade secret misappropriation, as well as consideration by the district court of CA's request for injunctive relief on its trade secret claim.

      206
      CONCLUSION
      207

      In adopting the above three step analysis for substantial similarity between the non-literal elements of computer programs, we seek to insure two things: (1) that programmers may receive appropriate copyright protection for innovative utilitarian works containing expression; and (2) that non-protectable technical expression remains in the public domain for others to use freely as building blocks in their own work. At first blush, it may seem counter-intuitive that someone who has benefitted to some degree from illicitly obtained material can emerge from an infringement suit relatively unscathed. However, so long as the appropriated material consists of non-protectable expression, "[t]his result is neither unfair nor unfortunate. It is the means by which copyright advances the progress of science and art." Feist, --- U.S. at ----, 111 S.Ct. at 1290.

      208

      Furthermore, we underscore that so long as trade secret law is employed in a manner that does not encroach upon the exclusive domain of the Copyright Act, it is an appropriate means by which to secure compensation for software espionage.

      209

      Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the district court in part; vacate in part; and remand for further proceedings. The parties shall bear their own costs of appeal, including the petition for rehearing.

      210
      ALTIMARI, Circuit Judge, concurring in part and dissenting in part:
      211

      Because I believe that our original opinion, see Computer Assoc. Int'l v. Altai, Nos. 91-7893(L), 1992 WL 139364 (2d Cir. June 22, 1992), is a reasoned analysis of the issues presented, I adhere to the original determination and therefore concur in Part 1 and respectfully dissent from Part 2 of the amended opinion.

    • 3.2 Lotus Development Corporation v. Borland International, Inc., 49 F.3d 807 (1st Cir. 1995)

      1
      49 F.3d 807 (1995)
      2
      LOTUS DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Plaintiff, Appellee,
      v.
      BORLAND INTERNATIONAL, INC., Defendant, Appellant.
      3
      No. 93-2214.
      4

      United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.

      5
      Heard October 6, 1994.
      6
      Decided March 9, 1995.
      7

       

      8

      [808] Gary L. Reback, with whom Peter N. Detkin, Michael Barclay, Isabella E. Fu, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C., Palo Alto, CA, Peter E. Gelhaar, Katherine L. Parks, and Donnelly Conroy & Gelhaar, Boston, MA, were on brief for appellant.

      9

      Matthew P. Poppel, Boston, MA, et al., were on brief for Computer Scientists, amicus curiae.

      10

      Dennis S. Karjala, Tempe, AZ, and Peter S. Menell, Berkeley, CA, on brief, amici curiae.

      11

      Jeffrey C. Cannon and Baker Keaton Seibel & Cannon, Walnut Creek, CA, were on brief for Computer Software Industry Ass'n, amicus curiae.

      12

      Laureen E. McGurk, David A. Rabin, Bryan G. Harrison and Morris Manning & Martin, Atlanta, GA, were on brief for Chicago Computer Soc., Diablo Users Group, Danbury Area Computer Soc., IBM AB Users Group, Kentucky-Indiana Personal Computer Users Group, Long Island PC Users Group, Napa Valley PC Users Group, Pacific Northwest PC Users Group, Palmetto Personal Computer Club, Philadelphia Area Computer Soc., Inc., Phoenix IBM PC Users Group, Pinellas IBM PC Users Group, Quad Cities Computer Soc., Quattro Pro Users Group, Sacramento PC Users Group, San Francisco PC Users Group, Santa Barbara PC Users Group, Twin Cities PC Users Group, and Warner Robbins Personal Computer Ass'n, amici curiae.

      13

      Diane Marie O'Malley and Hanson Bridgett Marcus Vlahos & Rudy, San Francisco, [809] CA, were on brief for Software Entrepreneurs' Forum, amicus curiae.

      14

      Peter M.C. Choy, Mountain View, CA, was on brief for American Committee for Interoperable Systems, amicus curiae.

      15

      Howard B. Abrams, Detroit, MI, Howard C. Anawalt, Santa Clara, CA, Stephen R. Barnett, Berkeley, CA, Ralph S. Brown, Stephen L. Carter, New Haven, CT, Amy B. Cohen, Longmeadow, MA, Paul J. Heald, Athens, GA, Peter A. Jaszi, John A. Kidwell, Madison, WI, Edmund W. Kitch, Charlottesville, VA, Roberta R. Kwall, Chicago, IL, David L. Lange, Durham, NC, Marshall Leaffer, Toledo, OH, Jessica D. Litman, Ann Arbor, MI, Charles R. McManis, St. Louis, MO, L. Ray Patterson, Athens, GA, Jerome H. Reichman, David A. Rice, Chestnut Hill, MA, Pamela Samuelson, Pittsburgh, PA, David J. Seipp, Boston, MA, David E. Shipley, Lexington, KY, Lionel S. Sobel, Santa Monica, CA, Alfred C. Yen, Newton, MA, and Diane L. Zimmerman, New York City, were on brief for Copyright Law Professors, amicus curiae.

      16

      Henry B. Gutman, Baker & Botts, LLP, with whom Kerry L. Konrad, Joshua H. Epstein, Kimberly A. Caldwell, O'Sullivan Graev & Karabell, New York City, Thomas M. Lemberg, James C. Burling, and Hale and Dorr, Boston, MA, were on brief for appellee.

      17

      Morton David Goldberg, June M. Besek, David O. Carson, Jesse M. Feder, Schwab Goldberg Price & Dannay, New York City, and Arthur R. Miller, Cambridge, MA, were on brief for Apple Computer, Inc., Digital Equip. Corp., International Business Machines Corp., and Xerox Corp., amici curiae.

      18

      Jon A. Baumgarten, Proskauer Rose Goetz & Mendelsohn, and Robert A. Gorman, New York City, were on brief for Adobe Systems, Inc., Apple Computer, Inc., Computer Associates Intern., Inc., Digital Equip. Corp., and International Business Machines Corp., amici curiae.

      19

      Herbert F. Schwartz, Vincent N. Palladino, Susan Progoff, Fish & Neave, New York City, William J. Cheeseman, and Foley Hoag & Eliot, Boston, MA, were on brief for Computer and Business Equip. Mfrs. Ass'n, amicus curiae.

      20

      Before TORRUELLA, Chief Judge, BOUDIN and STAHL, Circuit Judges.

      21

      STAHL, Circuit Judge.

      22

      This appeal requires us to decide whether a computer menu command hierarchy is copyrightable subject matter. In particular, we must decide whether, as the district court held, plaintiff-appellee Lotus Development Corporation's copyright in Lotus 1-2-3, a computer spreadsheet program, was infringed by defendant-appellant Borland International, Inc., when Borland copied the Lotus 1-2-3 menu command hierarchy into its Quattro and Quattro Pro computer spreadsheet programs. See Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., 788 F.Supp. 78 (D.Mass. 1992) ("Borland I"); Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., 799 F.Supp. 203 (D.Mass. 1992) ("Borland II"); Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., 831 F.Supp. 202 (D.Mass. 1993) ("Borland III"); Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc., 831 F.Supp. 223 (D.Mass. 1993) ("Borland IV").

      23
      I.
      24
      Background
      25

      Lotus 1-2-3 is a spreadsheet program that enables users to perform accounting functions electronically on a computer. Users manipulate and control the program via a series of menu commands, such as "Copy," "Print," and "Quit." Users choose commands either by highlighting them on the screen or by typing their first letter. In all, Lotus 1-2-3 has 469 commands arranged into more than 50 menus and submenus.

      26

      Lotus 1-2-3, like many computer programs, allows users to write what are called "macros." By writing a macro, a user can designate a series of command choices with a single macro keystroke. Then, to execute that series of commands in multiple parts of the spreadsheet, rather than typing the whole series each time, the user only needs to type the single pre-programmed macro keystroke, causing the program to recall and perform the designated series of commands automatically. Thus, Lotus 1-2-3 macros [810] shorten the time needed to set up and operate the program.

      27

      Borland released its first Quattro program to the public in 1987, after Borland's engineers had labored over its development for nearly three years. Borland's objective was to develop a spreadsheet program far superior to existing programs, including Lotus 1-2-3. In Borland's words, "[f]rom the time of its initial release ... Quattro included enormous innovations over competing spreadsheet products."

      28

      The district court found, and Borland does not now contest, that Borland included in its Quattro and Quattro Pro version 1.0 programs "a virtually identical copy of the entire 1-2-3 menu tree." Borland III, 831 F.Supp. at 212 (emphasis in original). In so doing, Borland did not copy any of Lotus's underlying computer code; it copied only the words and structure of Lotus's menu command hierarchy. Borland included the Lotus menu command hierarchy in its programs to make them compatible with Lotus 1-2-3 so that spreadsheet users who were already familiar with Lotus 1-2-3 would be able to switch to the Borland programs without having to learn new commands or rewrite their Lotus macros.

      29

      In its Quattro and Quattro Pro version 1.0 programs, Borland achieved compatibility with Lotus 1-2-3 by offering its users an alternate user interface, the "Lotus Emulation Interface." By activating the Emulation Interface, Borland users would see the Lotus menu commands on their screens and could interact with Quattro or Quattro Pro as if using Lotus 1-2-3, albeit with a slightly different looking screen and with many Borland options not available on Lotus 1-2-3. In effect, Borland allowed users to choose how they wanted to communicate with Borland's spreadsheet programs: either by using menu commands designed by Borland, or by using the commands and command structure used in Lotus 1-2-3 augmented by Borland-added commands.

      30

      Lotus filed this action against Borland in the District of Massachusetts on July 2, 1990, four days after a district court held that the Lotus 1-2-3 "menu structure, taken as a whole — including the choice of command terms [and] the structure and order of those terms," was protected expression covered by Lotus's copyrights. Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Paperback Software Int'l, 740 F.Supp. 37, 68, 70 (D.Mass.1990) ("Paperback").[1] Three days earlier, on the morning after the Paperback decision, Borland had filed a declaratory judgment action against Lotus in the Northern District of California, seeking a declaration of non-infringement. On September 10, 1990, the district court in California dismissed Borland's declaratory judgment action in favor of this action.

      31

      Lotus and Borland filed cross motions for summary judgment; the district court denied both motions on March 20, 1992, concluding that "neither party's motion is supported by the record." Borland I, 788 F.Supp. at 80. The district court invited the parties to file renewed summary judgment motions that would "focus their arguments more precisely" in light of rulings it had made in conjunction with its denial of their summary judgment motions. Id. at 82. Both parties filed renewed motions for summary judgment on April 24, 1992. In its motion, Borland contended that the Lotus 1-2-3 menus were not copyrightable as a matter of law and that no reasonable trier of fact could find that the similarity between its products and Lotus 1-2-3 was sufficient to sustain a determination of infringement. Lotus contended in its motion that Borland had copied Lotus 1-2-3's entire user interface and had thereby infringed Lotus's copyrights.

      32

      On July 31, 1992, the district court denied Borland's motion and granted Lotus's motion in part. The district court ruled that the Lotus menu command hierarchy was copyrightable expression because

      33
      [a] very satisfactory spreadsheet menu tree can be constructed using different commands and a different command structure from those of Lotus 1-2-3. In fact, Borland has constructed just such an alternate tree for use in Quattro Pro's native mode. Even if one holds the arrangement of menu commands constant, it is possible to generate literally millions of satisfactory [811] menu trees by varying the menu commands employed.
      34

      Borland II, 799 F.Supp. at 217. The district court demonstrated this by offering alternate command words for the ten commands that appear in Lotus's main menu. Id. For example, the district court stated that "[t]he `Quit' command could be named `Exit' without any other modifications," and that "[t]he `Copy' command could be called `Clone,' `Ditto,' `Duplicate,' `Imitate,' `Mimic,' `Replicate,' and `Reproduce,' among others." Id. Because so many variations were possible, the district court concluded that the Lotus developers' choice and arrangement of command terms, reflected in the Lotus menu command hierarchy, constituted copyrightable expression.

      35

      In granting partial summary judgment to Lotus, the district court held that Borland had infringed Lotus's copyright in Lotus 1-2-3:

      36
      [A]s a matter of law, Borland's Quattro products infringe the Lotus 1-2-3 copyright because of (1) the extent of copying of the "menu commands" and "menu structure" that is not genuinely disputed in this case, (2) the extent to which the copied elements of the "menu commands" and "menu structure" contain expressive aspects separable from the functions of the "menu commands" and "menu structure," and (3) the scope of those copied expressive aspects as an integral part of Lotus 1-2-3.
      37

      Borland II, 799 F.Supp. at 223 (emphasis in original). The court nevertheless concluded that while the Quattro and Quattro Pro programs infringed Lotus's copyright, Borland had not copied the entire Lotus 1-2-3 user interface, as Lotus had contended. Accordingly, the court concluded that a jury trial was necessary to determine the scope of Borland's infringement, including whether Borland copied the long prompts[2] of Lotus 1-2-3, whether the long prompts contained expressive elements, and to what extent, if any, functional constraints limited the number of possible ways that the Lotus menu command hierarchy could have been arranged at the time of its creation. See Borland III, 831 F.Supp. at 207. Additionally, the district court granted Lotus summary judgment on Borland's affirmative defense of waiver, but not on its affirmative defenses of laches and estoppel. Borland II, 799 F.Supp. at 222-23.

      38

      Immediately following the district court's summary judgment decision, Borland removed the Lotus Emulation Interface from its products. Thereafter, Borland's spreadsheet programs no longer displayed the Lotus 1-2-3 menus to Borland users, and as a result Borland users could no longer communicate with Borland's programs as if they were using a more sophisticated version of Lotus 1-2-3. Nonetheless, Borland's programs continued to be partially compatible with Lotus 1-2-3, for Borland retained what it called the "Key Reader" in its Quattro Pro programs. Once turned on, the Key Reader allowed Borland's programs to understand and perform some Lotus 1-2-3 macros.[3] With the Key Reader on, the Borland programs used Quattro Pro menus for display, interaction, and macro execution, except when they encountered a slash ("/") key in a macro (the starting key for any Lotus 1-2-3 [812] macro), in which case they interpreted the macro as having been written for Lotus 1-2-3. Accordingly, people who wrote or purchased macros to shorten the time needed to perform an operation in Lotus 1-2-3 could still use those macros in Borland's programs.[4] The district court permitted Lotus to file a supplemental complaint alleging that the Key Reader infringed its copyright.

      39

      The parties agreed to try the remaining liability issues without a jury. The district court held two trials, the Phase I trial covering all remaining issues raised in the original complaint (relating to the Emulation Interface) and the Phase II trial covering all issues raised in the supplemental complaint (relating to the Key Reader). At the Phase I trial, there were no live witnesses, although considerable testimony was presented in the form of affidavits and deposition excerpts. The district court ruled upon evidentiary objections counsel interposed. At the Phase II trial, there were two live witnesses, each of whom demonstrated the programs for the district court.

      40

      After the close of the Phase I trial, the district court permitted Borland to amend its answer to include the affirmative defense of "fair use." Because Borland had presented all of the evidence supporting its fair-use defense during the Phase I trial, but Lotus had not presented any evidence on fair use (as the defense had not been raised before the conclusion of the Phase I trial), the district court considered Lotus's motion for judgment on partial findings of fact. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(c). The district court held that Borland had failed to show that its use of the Lotus 1-2-3 menu command hierarchy in its Emulation Interface was a fair use. See Borland III, 831 F.Supp. at 208.

      41

      In its Phase I-trial decision, the district court found that "each of the Borland emulation interfaces contains a virtually identical copy of the 1-2-3 menu tree and that the 1-2-3 menu tree is capable of a wide variety of expression." Borland III, 831 F.Supp. at 218. The district court also rejected Borland's affirmative defenses of laches and estoppel. Id. at 218-23.

      42

      In its Phase II-trial decision, the district court found that Borland's Key Reader file included "a virtually identical copy of the Lotus menu tree structure, but represented in a different form and with first letters of menu command names in place of the full menu command names." Borland IV, 831 F.Supp. at 228. In other words, Borland's programs no longer included the Lotus command terms, but only their first letters. The district court held that "the Lotus menu structure, organization, and first letters of the command names ... constitute part of the protectable expression found in [Lotus 1-2-3]." Id. at 233. Accordingly, the district court held that with its Key Reader, Borland had infringed Lotus's copyright. Id. at 245. The district court also rejected Borland's affirmative defenses of waiver, laches, estoppel, and fair use. Id. at 235-45. The district court then entered a permanent injunction against Borland, id. at 245, from which Borland appeals.

      43

      This appeal concerns only Borland's copying of the Lotus menu command hierarchy into its Quattro programs and Borland's affirmative defenses to such copying. Lotus has not cross-appealed; in other words, Lotus does not contend on appeal that the district court erred in finding that Borland had not copied other elements of Lotus 1-2-3, such as its screen displays.

      44
      II.
      45
      Discussion
      46

      On appeal, Borland does not dispute that it factually copied the words and arrangement of the Lotus menu command hierarchy. Rather, Borland argues that it "lawfully copied the unprotectable menus of Lotus 1-2-3." Borland contends that the Lotus menu command hierarchy is not copyrightable because it is a system, method of operation, process, or procedure foreclosed from protection by 17 U.S.C. § 102(b). Borland also raises a number of affirmative defenses. [813]

      47

       

      48
      A. Copyright Infringement Generally
      49

      To establish copyright infringement, a plaintiff must prove "(1) ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) copying of constituent elements of the work that are original." Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 361, 111 S.Ct. 1282, 1296, 113 L.Ed.2d 358 (1991); see also Data Gen. Corp. v. Grumman Sys. Support Corp., 36 F.3d 1147, 1160 n. 19 (1st Cir.1994); Concrete Mach. Co. v. Classic Lawn Ornaments, Inc., 843 F.2d 600, 605 (1st Cir.1988). To show ownership of a valid copyright and therefore satisfy Feist's first prong, a plaintiff must prove that the work as a whole is original and that the plaintiff complied with applicable statutory formalities. See Engineering Dynamics, Inc. v. Structural Software, Inc., 26 F.3d 1335, 1340 (5th Cir.1994). "In judicial proceedings, a certificate of copyright registration constitutes prima facie evidence of copyrightability and shifts the burden to the defendant to demonstrate why the copyright is not valid." Bibbero Sys., Inc. v. Colwell Sys., Inc., 893 F.2d 1104, 1106 (9th Cir.1990); see also 17 U.S.C. § 410(c); Folio Impressions, Inc. v. Byer California, 937 F.2d 759, 763 (2d Cir.1991) (presumption of validity may be rebutted).

      50

      To show actionable copying and therefore satisfy Feist's second prong, a plaintiff must first prove that the alleged infringer copied plaintiff's copyrighted work as a factual matter; to do this, he or she may either present direct evidence of factual copying or, if that is unavailable, evidence that the alleged infringer had access to the copyrighted work and that the offending and copyrighted works are so similar that the court may infer that there was factual copying (i.e., probative similarity). Engineering Dynamics, 26 F.3d at 1340; see also Concrete Mach., 843 F.2d at 606. The plaintiff must then prove that the copying of copyrighted material was so extensive that it rendered the offending and copyrighted works substantially similar. See Engineering Dynamics, 26 F.3d at 1341.

      51

      In this appeal, we are faced only with whether the Lotus menu command hierarchy is copyrightable subject matter in the first instance, for Borland concedes that Lotus has a valid copyright in Lotus 1-2-3 as a whole[5] and admits to factually copying the Lotus menu command hierarchy. As a result, this appeal is in a very different posture from most copyright-infringement cases, for copyright infringement generally turns on whether the defendant has copied protected expression as a factual matter. Because of this different posture, most copyright-infringement cases provide only limited help to us in deciding this appeal. This is true even with respect to those copyright-infringement cases that deal with computers and computer software.

      52
      B. Matter of First Impression
      53

      Whether a computer menu command hierarchy constitutes copyrightable subject matter is a matter of first impression in this court. While some other courts appear to have touched on it briefly in dicta, see, e.g., Autoskill, Inc. v. National Educ. Support Sys., Inc., 994 F.2d 1476, 1495 n. 23 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 114 S.Ct. 307, 126 L.Ed.2d 254 (1993), we know of no cases that deal with the copyrightability of a menu command hierarchy standing on its own (i.e., without other elements of the user interface, such as screen displays, in issue). Thus we are navigating in uncharted waters.

      54

      Borland vigorously argues, however, that the Supreme Court charted our course more than 100 years ago when it decided Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99, 25 L.Ed. 841 (1879). In Baker v. Selden, the Court held that Selden's copyright over the textbook in which he explained [814] his new way to do accounting did not grant him a monopoly on the use of his accounting system.[6] Borland argues:

      55
      The facts of Baker v. Selden, and even the arguments advanced by the parties in that case, are identical to those in this case. The only difference is that the "user interface" of Selden's system was implemented by pen and paper rather than by computer.
      56

      To demonstrate that Baker v. Selden and this appeal both involve accounting systems, Borland even supplied this court with a video that, with special effects, shows Selden's paper forms "melting" into a computer screen and transforming into Lotus 1-2-3.

      57

      We do not think that Baker v. Selden is nearly as analogous to this appeal as Borland claims. Of course, Lotus 1-2-3 is a computer spreadsheet, and as such its grid of horizontal rows and vertical columns certainly resembles an accounting ledger or any other paper spreadsheet. Those grids, however, are not at issue in this appeal for, unlike Selden, Lotus does not claim to have a monopoly over its accounting system. Rather, this appeal involves Lotus's monopoly over the commands it uses to operate the computer. Accordingly, this appeal is not, as Borland contends, "identical" to Baker v. Selden.

      58
      C. Altai
      59

      Before we analyze whether the Lotus menu command hierarchy is a system, method of operation, process, or procedure, we first consider the applicability of the test the Second Circuit set forth in Computer Assoc. Int'l, Inc. v. Altai, Inc., 982 F.2d 693 (2d Cir.1992).[7] The Second Circuit designed its Altai test to deal with the fact that computer programs, copyrighted as "literary works," can be infringed by what is known as "nonliteral" copying, which is copying that is paraphrased or loosely paraphrased rather than word for word. See id. at 701 (citing nonliteral-copying cases); see also 3 Melville B. Nimmer & David Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright § 13.03[A][1] (1993). When faced with nonliteral-copying cases, courts must determine whether similarities are due merely to the fact that the two works share the same underlying idea or whether they instead indicate that the second author copied the first author's expression. The Second Circuit designed its Altai test to deal with this situation in the computer context, specifically with whether one computer program copied nonliteral expression from another program's code.

      60

      The Altai test involves three steps: abstraction, filtration, and comparison. The abstraction step requires courts to "dissect the allegedly copied program's structure and isolate each level of abstraction contained within it." Altai, 982 F.2d at 707. This step enables courts to identify the appropriate framework within which to separate protectable expression from unprotected ideas. Second, courts apply a "filtration" step in which they examine "the structural components at each level of abstraction to determine whether their particular inclusion at that level was `idea' or was dictated by considerations of efficiency, so as to be necessarily incidental to that idea; required by factors external to the program itself; or taken from the public domain." Id. Finally, courts compare the protected elements of the infringed work (i.e., those that survived the filtration screening) to the corresponding elements of the allegedly infringing work to determine whether there was sufficient copying of protected material to constitute infringement. Id. at 710.

      61

      In the instant appeal, we are not confronted with alleged nonliteral copying of computer code. Rather, we are faced with Borland's deliberate, literal copying of the Lotus menu command hierarchy. Thus, we must determine not whether nonliteral copying occurred in some amorphous sense, but rather whether the literal copying of the Lotus [815] menu command hierarchy constitutes copyright infringement.

      62

      While the Altai test may provide a useful framework for assessing the alleged nonliteral copying of computer code, we find it to be of little help in assessing whether the literal copying of a menu command hierarchy constitutes copyright infringement. In fact, we think that the Altai test in this context may actually be misleading because, in instructing courts to abstract the various levels, it seems to encourage them to find a base level that includes copyrightable subject matter that, if literally copied, would make the copier liable for copyright infringement.[8] While that base (or literal) level would not be at issue in a nonliteral-copying case like Altai, it is precisely what is at issue in this appeal. We think that abstracting menu command hierarchies down to their individual word and menu levels and then filtering idea from expression at that stage, as both the Altai and the district court tests require, obscures the more fundamental question of whether a menu command hierarchy can be copyrighted at all. The initial inquiry should not be whether individual components of a menu command hierarchy are expressive, but rather whether the menu command hierarchy as a whole can be copyrighted. But see Gates Rubber Co. v. Bando Chem. Indus., Ltd., 9 F.3d 823 (10th Cir.1993) (endorsing Altai's abstraction-filtration-comparison test as a way of determining whether "menus and sorting criteria" are copyrightable).

      63
      D. The Lotus Menu Command Hierarchy: A "Method of Operation"
      64

      Borland argues that the Lotus menu command hierarchy is uncopyrightable because it is a system, method of operation, process, or procedure foreclosed from copyright protection by 17 U.S.C. § 102(b). Section 102(b) states: "In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work." Because we conclude that the Lotus menu command hierarchy is a method of operation, we do not consider whether it could also be a system, process, or procedure.

      65

      We think that "method of operation," as that term is used in § 102(b), refers to the means by which a person operates something, whether it be a car, a food processor, or a computer. Thus a text describing how to operate something would not extend copyright protection to the method of operation itself; other people would be free to employ that method and to describe it in their own words. Similarly, if a new method of operation is used rather than described, other people would still be free to employ or describe that method.

      66

      We hold that the Lotus menu command hierarchy is an uncopyrightable "method of operation." The Lotus menu command hierarchy provides the means by which users control and operate Lotus 1-2-3. If users wish to copy material, for example, they use the "Copy" command. If users wish to print material, they use the "Print" command. Users must use the command terms to tell the computer what to do. Without the menu command hierarchy, users would not be able to access and control, or indeed make use of, Lotus 1-2-3's functional capabilities.

      67

      The Lotus menu command hierarchy does not merely explain and present Lotus 1-2-3's functional capabilities to the user; it also serves as the method by which the program is operated and controlled. The Lotus menu command hierarchy is different from the Lotus long prompts, for the long prompts are not necessary to the operation of the program; users could operate Lotus 1-2-3 even if there were no long prompts.[9] The Lotus [816] menu command hierarchy is also different from the Lotus screen displays, for users need not "use" any expressive aspects of the screen displays in order to operate Lotus 1-2-3; because the way the screens look has little bearing on how users control the program, the screen displays are not part of Lotus 1-2-3's "method of operation."[10] The Lotus menu command hierarchy is also different from the underlying computer code, because while code is necessary for the program to work, its precise formulation is not. In other words, to offer the same capabilities as Lotus 1-2-3, Borland did not have to copy Lotus's underlying code (and indeed it did not); to allow users to operate its programs in substantially the same way, however, Borland had to copy the Lotus menu command hierarchy. Thus the Lotus 1-2-3 code is not a uncopyrightable "method of operation."[11]

      68

      The district court held that the Lotus menu command hierarchy, with its specific choice and arrangement of command terms, constituted an "expression" of the "idea" of operating a computer program with commands arranged hierarchically into menus and submenus. Borland II, 799 F.Supp. at 216. Under the district court's reasoning, Lotus's decision to employ hierarchically arranged command terms to operate its program could not foreclose its competitors from also employing hierarchically arranged command terms to operate their programs, but it did foreclose them from employing the specific command terms and arrangement that Lotus had used. In effect, the district court limited Lotus 1-2-3's "method of operation" to an abstraction.

      69

      Accepting the district court's finding that the Lotus developers made some expressive choices in choosing and arranging the Lotus command terms, we nonetheless hold that that expression is not copyrightable because it is part of Lotus 1-2-3's "method of operation." We do not think that "methods of operation" are limited to abstractions; rather, they are the means by which a user operates something. If specific words are essential to operating something, then they are part of a "method of operation" and, as such, are unprotectable. This is so whether they must be highlighted, typed in, or even spoken, as computer programs no doubt will soon be controlled by spoken words.

      70

      The fact that Lotus developers could have designed the Lotus menu command hierarchy differently is immaterial to the question of whether it is a "method of operation." In other words, our initial inquiry is not whether the Lotus menu command hierarchy incorporates any expression.[12] Rather, our initial inquiry is whether the Lotus menu command hierarchy is a "method of operation." Concluding, as we do, that users operate Lotus 1-2-3 by using the Lotus menu command hierarchy, and that the entire Lotus menu command hierarchy is essential to operating Lotus 1-2-3, we do not inquire further whether that method of operation could have been designed differently. The "expressive" choices of what to name the command terms and how to arrange them do not magically change the uncopyrightable menu command hierarchy into copyrightable subject matter.

      71

      Our holding that "methods of operation" are not limited to mere abstractions is bolstered by Baker v. Selden. In Baker, the Supreme Court explained that

      72
      the teachings of science and the rules and methods of useful art have their final end in application and use; and this application [817] and use are what the public derive from the publication of a book which teaches them.... The description of the art in a book, though entitled to the benefit of copyright, lays no foundation for an exclusive claim to the art itself. The object of the one is explanation; the object of the other is use. The former may be secured by copyright. The latter can only be secured, if it can be secured at all, by letters-patent.
      73

      Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. at 104-05. Lotus wrote its menu command hierarchy so that people could learn it and use it. Accordingly, it falls squarely within the prohibition on copyright protection established in Baker v. Selden and codified by Congress in § 102(b).

      74

      In many ways, the Lotus menu command hierarchy is like the buttons used to control, say, a video cassette recorder ("VCR"). A VCR is a machine that enables one to watch and record video tapes. Users operate VCRs by pressing a series of buttons that are typically labelled "Record, Play, Reverse, Fast Forward, Pause, Stop/Eject." That the buttons are arranged and labeled does not make them a "literary work," nor does it make them an "expression" of the abstract "method of operating" a VCR via a set of labeled buttons. Instead, the buttons are themselves the "method of operating" the VCR.

      75

      When a Lotus 1-2-3 user chooses a command, either by highlighting it on the screen or by typing its first letter, he or she effectively pushes a button. Highlighting the "Print" command on the screen, or typing the letter "P," is analogous to pressing a VCR button labeled "Play."

      76

      Just as one could not operate a buttonless VCR, it would be impossible to operate Lotus 1-2-3 without employing its menu command hierarchy. Thus the Lotus command terms are not equivalent to the labels on the VCR's buttons, but are instead equivalent to the buttons themselves. Unlike the labels on a VCR's buttons, which merely make operating a VCR easier by indicating the buttons' functions, the Lotus menu commands are essential to operating Lotus 1-2-3. Without the menu commands, there would be no way to "push" the Lotus buttons, as one could push unlabeled VCR buttons. While Lotus could probably have designed a user interface for which the command terms were mere labels, it did not do so here. Lotus 1-2-3 depends for its operation on use of the precise command terms that make up the Lotus menu command hierarchy.

      77

      One might argue that the buttons for operating a VCR are not analogous to the commands for operating a computer program because VCRs are not copyrightable, whereas computer programs are. VCRs may not be copyrighted because they do not fit within any of the § 102(a) categories of copyrightable works; the closest they come is "sculptural work." Sculptural works, however, are subject to a "useful-article" exception whereby "the design of a useful article ... shall be considered a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article." 17 U.S.C. § 101. A "useful article" is "an article having an intrinsic utilitarian function that is not merely to portray the appearance of the article or to convey information." Id. Whatever expression there may be in the arrangement of the parts of a VCR is not capable of existing separately from the VCR itself, so an ordinary VCR would not be copyrightable.

      78

      Computer programs, unlike VCRs, are copyrightable as "literary works." 17 U.S.C. § 102(a). Accordingly, one might argue, the "buttons" used to operate a computer program are not like the buttons used to operate a VCR, for they are not subject to a useful-article exception. The response, of course, is that the arrangement of buttons on a VCR would not be copyrightable even without a useful-article exception, because the buttons are an uncopyrightable "method of operation." Similarly, the "buttons" of a computer program are also an uncopyrightable "method of operation."

      79

      That the Lotus menu command hierarchy is a "method of operation" becomes clearer when one considers program compatibility. Under Lotus's theory, if a user uses [818] several different programs, he or she must learn how to perform the same operation in a different way for each program used. For example, if the user wanted the computer to print material, then the user would have to learn not just one method of operating the computer such that it prints, but many different methods. We find this absurd. The fact that there may be many different ways to operate a computer program, or even many different ways to operate a computer program using a set of hierarchically arranged command terms, does not make the actual method of operation chosen copyrightable; it still functions as a method for operating the computer and as such is uncopyrightable.

      80

      Consider also that users employ the Lotus menu command hierarchy in writing macros. Under the district court's holding, if the user wrote a macro to shorten the time needed to perform a certain operation in Lotus 1-2-3, the user would be unable to use that macro to shorten the time needed to perform that same operation in another program. Rather, the user would have to rewrite his or her macro using that other program's menu command hierarchy. This is despite the fact that the macro is clearly the user's own work product. We think that forcing the user to cause the computer to perform the same operation in a different way ignores Congress's direction in § 102(b) that "methods of operation" are not copyrightable. That programs can offer users the ability to write macros in many different ways does not change the fact that, once written, the macro allows the user to perform an operation automatically. As the Lotus menu command hierarchy serves as the basis for Lotus 1-2-3 macros, the Lotus menu command hierarchy is a "method of operation."

      81

      In holding that expression that is part of a "method of operation" cannot be copyrighted, we do not understand ourselves to go against the Supreme Court's holding in Feist. In Feist, the Court explained:

      82
      The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts. To this end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work.
      83

      Feist, 499 U.S. at 349-50, 111 S.Ct. at 1290 (quotations and citations omitted). We do not think that the Court's statement that "copyright assures authors the right to their original expression" indicates that all expression is necessarily copyrightable; while original expression is necessary for copyright protection, we do not think that it is alone sufficient. Courts must still inquire whether original expression falls within one of the categories foreclosed from copyright protection by § 102(b), such as being a "method of operation."

      84

      We also note that in most contexts, there is no need to "build" upon other people's expression, for the ideas conveyed by that expression can be conveyed by someone else without copying the first author's expression.[13] In the context of methods of operation, however, "building" requires the use of the precise method of operation already employed; otherwise, "building" would require dismantling, too. Original developers are not the only people entitled to build on the methods of operation they create; anyone can. Thus, Borland may build on the method of operation that Lotus designed and may use the Lotus menu command hierarchy in doing so.

      85

      Our holding that methods of operation are not limited to abstractions goes against Autoskill, 994 F.2d at 1495 n. 23, in which the Tenth Circuit rejected the defendant's argument that the keying procedure used in a computer program was an uncopyrightable "procedure" or "method of operation" under § 102(b). The program at issue, which was designed to test and train students with reading deficiencies, id. at 1481, required students to select responses to the program's queries "by pressing the 1, 2, or 3 keys." Id. at 1495 n. 23. The Tenth Circuit held that, "for purposes of the preliminary injunction, ... the record showed that [this] keying procedure reflected at least a minimal degree [819] of creativity," as required by Feist for copyright protection. Id. As an initial matter, we question whether a programmer's decision to have users select a response by pressing the 1, 2, or 3 keys is original. More importantly, however, we fail to see how "a student select[ing] a response by pressing the 1, 2, or 3 keys," id., can be anything but an unprotectable method of operation.[14]

      86
      III.
      87
      Conclusion
      88

      Because we hold that the Lotus menu command hierarchy is uncopyrightable subject matter, we further hold that Borland did not infringe Lotus's copyright by copying it. Accordingly, we need not consider any of Borland's affirmative defenses. The judgment of the district court is

      89

      Reversed.

      90

      Concurrence follows.

      91

      BOUDIN, Circuit Judge, concurring.

      92

      The importance of this case, and a slightly different emphasis in my view of the underlying problem, prompt me to add a few words to the majority's tightly focused discussion.

      93
      I.
      94

      Most of the law of copyright and the "tools" of analysis have developed in the context of literary works such as novels, plays, and films. In this milieu, the principal problem — simply stated, if difficult to resolve — is to stimulate creative expression without unduly limiting access by others to the broader themes and concepts deployed by the author. The middle of the spectrum presents close cases; but a "mistake" in providing too much protection involves a small cost: subsequent authors treating the same themes must take a few more steps away from the original expression.

      95

      The problem presented by computer programs is fundamentally different in one respect. The computer program is a means for causing something to happen; it has a mechanical utility, an instrumental role, in accomplishing the world's work. Granting protection, in other words, can have some of the consequences of patent protection in limiting other people's ability to perform a task in the most efficient manner. Utility does not bar copyright (dictionaries may be copyrighted), but it alters the calculus.

      96

      Of course, the argument for protection is undiminished, perhaps even enhanced, by utility: if we want more of an intellectual product, a temporary monopoly for the creator provides incentives for others to create other, different items in this class. But the "cost" side of the equation may be different where one places a very high value on public access to a useful innovation that may be the most efficient means of performing a given task. Thus, the argument for extending protection may be the same; but the stakes on the other side are much higher.

      97

      It is no accident that patent protection has preconditions that copyright protection does not — notably, the requirements of novelty and non-obviousness — and that patents are granted for a shorter period than copyrights. This problem of utility has sometimes manifested itself in copyright cases, such as Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99, 25 L.Ed. 841 (1879), and been dealt with through various formulations that limit copyright or create limited rights to copy. But the case law and doctrine addressed to utility in copyright have been brief detours in the general march of copyright law.

      98

      Requests for the protection of computer menus present the concern with fencing off access to the commons in an acute form. A new menu may be a creative work, but over time its importance may come to reside more in the investment that has been made by users in learning the menu and in building their own mini-programs — macros — in reliance upon the menu. Better typewriter keyboard [820] layouts may exist, but the familiar QWERTY keyboard dominates the market because that is what everyone has learned to use. See P. David, CLIO and the Economics of QWERTY, 75 Am.Econ.Rev. 332 (1985). The QWERTY keyboard is nothing other than a menu of letters.

      99

      Thus, to assume that computer programs are just one more new means of expression, like a filmed play, may be quite wrong. The "form" — the written source code or the menu structure depicted on the screen — look hauntingly like the familiar stuff of copyright; but the "substance" probably has more to do with problems presented in patent law or, as already noted, in those rare cases where copyright law has confronted industrially useful expressions. Applying copyright law to computer programs is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces do not quite fit.

      100

      All of this would make no difference if Congress had squarely confronted the issue, and given explicit directions as to what should be done. The Copyright Act of 1976 took a different course. While Congress said that computer programs might be subject to copyright protection, it said this in very general terms; and, especially in § 102(b), Congress adopted a string of exclusions that if taken literally might easily seem to exclude most computer programs from protection. The only detailed prescriptions for computers involve narrow issues (like back-up copies) of no relevance here.

      101

      Of course, one could still read the statute as a congressional command that the familiar doctrines of copyright law be taken and applied to computer programs, in cookie cutter fashion, as if the programs were novels or play scripts. Some of the cases involving computer programs embody this approach. It seems to be mistaken on two different grounds: the tradition of copyright law, and the likely intent of Congress.

      102

      The broad-brush conception of copyright protection, the time limits, and the formalities have long been prescribed by statute. But the heart of copyright doctrine — what may be protected and with what limitations and exceptions — has been developed by the courts through experience with individual cases. B. Kaplan, An Unhurried View of Copyright 40 (1967). Occasionally Congress addresses a problem in detail. For the most part the interstitial development of copyright through the courts is our tradition.

      103

      Nothing in the language or legislative history of the 1976 Act, or at least nothing brought to our attention, suggests that Congress meant the courts to abandon this case-by-case approach. Indeed, by setting up § 102(b) as a counterpoint theme, Congress has arguably recognized the tension and left it for the courts to resolve through the development of case law. And case law development is adaptive: it allows new problems to be solved with help of earlier doctrine, but it does not preclude new doctrines to meet new situations.

      104
      II.
      105

      In this case, the raw facts are mostly, if not entirely, undisputed. Although the inferences to be drawn may be more debatable, it is very hard to see that Borland has shown any interest in the Lotus menu except as a fall-back option for those users already committed to it by prior experience or in order to run their own macros using 1-2-3 commands. At least for the amateur, accessing the Lotus menu in the Borland Quattro or Quattro Pro program takes some effort.

      106

      Put differently, it is unlikely that users who value the Lotus menu for its own sake — independent of any investment they have made themselves in learning Lotus' commands or creating macros dependent upon them — would choose the Borland program in order to secure access to the Lotus menu. Borland's success is due primarily to other features. Its rationale for deploying the Lotus menu bears the ring of truth.

      107

      Now, any use of the Lotus menu by Borland is a commercial use and deprives Lotus of a portion of its "reward," in the sense that an infringement claim if allowed would increase Lotus' profits. But this is circular reasoning: broadly speaking, every limitation on copyright or privileged use diminishes the reward of the original creator. Yet not every writing is copyrightable or every use an infringement. The provision of reward is [821] one concern of copyright law, but it is not the only one. If it were, copyrights would be perpetual and there would be no exceptions.

      108

      The present case is an unattractive one for copyright protection of the menu. The menu commands (e.g., "print," "quit") are largely for standard procedures that Lotus did not invent and are common words that Lotus cannot monopolize. What is left is the particular combination and sub-grouping of commands in a pattern devised by Lotus. This arrangement may have a more appealing logic and ease of use than some other configurations; but there is a certain arbitrariness to many of the choices.

      109

      If Lotus is granted a monopoly on this pattern, users who have learned the command structure of Lotus 1-2-3 or devised their own macros are locked into Lotus, just as a typist who has learned the QWERTY keyboard would be the captive of anyone who had a monopoly on the production of such a keyboard. Apparently, for a period Lotus 1-2-3 has had such sway in the market that it has represented the de facto standard for electronic spreadsheet commands. So long as Lotus is the superior spreadsheet — either in quality or in price — there may be nothing wrong with this advantage.

      110

      But if a better spreadsheet comes along, it is hard to see why customers who have learned the Lotus menu and devised macros for it should remain captives of Lotus because of an investment in learning made by the users and not by Lotus. Lotus has already reaped a substantial reward for being first; assuming that the Borland program is now better, good reasons exist for freeing it to attract old Lotus customers: to enable the old customers to take advantage of a new advance, and to reward Borland in turn for making a better product. If Borland has not made a better product, then customers will remain with Lotus anyway.

      111

      Thus, for me the question is not whether Borland should prevail but on what basis. Various avenues might be traveled, but the main choices are between holding that the menu is not protectable by copyright and devising a new doctrine that Borland's use is privileged. No solution is perfect and no intermediate appellate court can make the final choice.

      112

      To call the menu a "method of operation" is, in the common use of those words, a defensible position. After all, the purpose of the menu is not to be admired as a work of literary or pictorial art. It is to transmit directions from the user to the computer, i.e., to operate the computer. The menu is also a "method" in the dictionary sense because it is a "planned way of doing something," an "order or system," and (aptly here) an "orderly or systematic arrangement, sequence or the like." Random House Webster's College Dictionary 853 (1991).

      113

      A different approach would be to say that Borland's use is privileged because, in the context already described, it is not seeking to appropriate the advances made by Lotus' menu; rather, having provided an arguably more attractive menu of its own, Borland is merely trying to give former Lotus users an option to exploit their own prior investment in learning or in macros. The difference is that such a privileged use approach would not automatically protect Borland if it had simply copied the Lotus menu (using different codes), contributed nothing of its own, and resold Lotus under the Borland label.

      114

      The closest analogue in conventional copyright is the fair use doctrine. E.g., Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enters., 471 U.S. 539, 105 S.Ct. 2218, 85 L.Ed.2d 588 (1985). Although invoked by Borland, it has largely been brushed aside in this case because the Supreme Court has said that it is "presumptively" unavailable where the use is a "commercial" one. See id. at 562, 105 S.Ct. at 2231-32. But see Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., ___ U.S. ___, ___, 114 S.Ct. 1164, 1174, 127 L.Ed.2d 500 (1994). In my view, this is something less than a definitive answer; "presumptively" does not mean "always" and, in any event, the doctrine of fair use was created by the courts and can be adapted to new purposes.

      115

      But a privileged use doctrine would certainly involve problems of its own. It might more closely tailor the limits on copyright protection to the reasons for limiting that protection; but it would entail a host of administrative problems that would cause [822] cost and delay, and would also reduce the ability of the industry to predict outcomes. Indeed, to the extent that Lotus' menu is an important standard in the industry, it might be argued that any use ought to be deemed privileged.

      116

      In sum, the majority's result persuades me and its formulation is as good, if not better, than any other that occurs to me now as within the reach of courts. Some solutions (e.g., a very short copyright period for menus) are not options at all for courts but might be for Congress. In all events, the choices are important ones of policy, not linguistics, and they should be made with the underlying considerations in view.

      117

      [1] Judge Keeton presided over both the Paperback litigation and this case.

      118

      [2] Lotus 1-2-3 utilizes a two-line menu; the top line lists the commands from which the user may choose, and the bottom line displays what Lotus calls its "long prompts." The long prompts explain, as a sort of "help text," what the highlighted menu command will do if entered. For example, the long prompt for the "Worksheet" command displays the submenu that the "Worksheet" command calls up; it reads "Global, Insert, Delete, Column, Erase, Titles, Window, Status, Page." The long prompt for the "Copy" command explains what function the "Copy" command will perform: "Copy a cell or range of cells." The long prompt for the "Quit" command reads, "End 1-2-3 session (Have you saved your work?)."

      119

      Prior to trial, the parties agreed to exclude the copying of the long prompts from the case; Lotus agreed not to contend that Borland had copied the long prompts, Borland agreed not to argue that it had not copied the long prompts, and both sides agreed not to argue that the issue of whether Borland had copied the long prompts was material to any other issue in the case. See Borland III, 831 F.Supp. at 208.

      120

      [3] Because Borland's programs could no longer display the Lotus menu command hierarchy to users, the Key Reader did not allow debugging or modification of macros, nor did it permit the execution of most interactive macros.

      121

      [4] See Borland IV, 831 F.Supp. at 226-27, for a more detailed explanation of macros and the Key Reader.

      122

      [5] Computer programs receive copyright protection as "literary works." See 17 U.S.C. § 102(a)(1) (granting protection to "literary works") and 17 U.S.C. § 101 (defining "literary works" as "works ... expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or numerical symbols or indicia, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as books, periodicals, phonorecords, film, tapes, disks, or cards, in which they are embodied" (emphasis added)); see also H.R.Rep. No. 1476, 94th Cong., 2d Sess. 54 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5659, 5667 ("The term `literary works' ... includes computer data bases, and computer programs to the extent that they incorporate authorship in the programmer's expression of original ideas, as distinguished from the ideas themselves.").

      123

      [6] Selden's system of double-entry bookkeeping is the now almost-universal T-accounts system.

      124

      [7] We consider the Altai test because both parties and many of the amici focus on it so heavily. Borland, in particular, is highly critical of the district court for not employing the Altai test. Borland does not, however, indicate how using that test would have been dispositive in Borland's favor. Interestingly, Borland appears to contract its own reasoning at times by criticizing the applicability of the Altai test.

      125

      [8] We recognize that Altai never states that every work contains a copyrightable "nugget" of protectable expression. Nonetheless, the implication is that for literal copying, "it is not necessary to determine the level of abstraction at which similarity ceases to consist of an `expression of ideas,' because literal similarity by definition is always a similarity as to the expression of ideas." 3 Melville B. Nimmer & David Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright § 13.03[A](2) (1993).

      126

      [9] As the Lotus long prompts are not before us on appeal, we take no position on their copyrightability, although we do note that a strong argument could be made that the brief explanations they provide "merge" with the underlying idea of explaining such functions. See Morrissey v. Procter & Gamble Co., 379 F.2d 675, 678-79 (1st Cir.1967) (when the possible ways to express an idea are limited, the expression "merges" with the idea and is therefore uncopyrightable; when merger occurs, identical copying is permitted).

      127

      [10] As they are not before us on appeal, we take no position on whether the Lotus 1-2-3 screen displays constitute original expression capable of being copyrighted.

      128

      [11] Because the Lotus 1-2-3 code is not before us on appeal, we take no position on whether it is copyrightable. We note, however, that original computer codes generally are protected by copyright. See, e.g., Altai, 982 F.2d at 702 ("It is now well settled that the literal elements of computer programs, i.e., their source and object codes, are the subject of copyright protection.") (citing cases).

      129

      [12] We think that the Altai test would contemplate this being the initial inquiry.

      130

      [13] When there are a limited number of ways to express an idea, however, the expression "merges" with the idea and becomes uncopyrightable. Morrissey, 379 F.2d at 678-79.

      131

      [14] The Ninth Circuit has also indicated in dicta that "menus, and keystrokes" may be copyrightable. Brown Bag Software v. Symantec Corp., 960 F.2d 1465, 1477 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, BB Asset Management, Inc. v. Symantec Corp., ___ U.S. ___, 113 S.Ct. 198, 121 L.Ed.2d 141 (1992). In that case, however, the plaintiff did not show that the defendant had copied the plaintiff's menus or keystrokes, so the court was not directly faced with whether the menus or keystrokes constituted an unprotectable method of operation. Id.

      132

       

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