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Ashton-Tate Corp. v. Ross

916 F.2d 516 (1990)

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Ashton-Tate Corp. v. Ross

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

916 F.2d 516 (1990)

Facts

Richard Ross (defendant) and Randy Wigginton collaborated on the development of a spreadsheet program for the Apple Macintosh computer. Ross worked on the engine or computational component of the program, and Wigginton worked on the user interface. At one point during their collaboration, Ross gave Wigginton a list of commands that he thought the user interface should contain; however, Wigginton wrote all the code for the user-interface part of the program. A few months later, Wigginton went to work for Ashton-Tate Corporation (Ashton) (plaintiff), where he continued to work on the interface. Eventually, Wigginton’s user interface was combined with a computational engine that Ashton owned, and together they became a spreadsheet program released by Ashton called Full Impact. Meanwhile, Ross continued to work on his program, including a user interface to combine with his engine, and Ross published MacCalc. Ross demanded that Ashton compensate him for his contribution to Full Impact. Ashton then filed a complaint for declaratory relief, seeking to establish that Ross had no rights in Full Impact, and Ross counterclaimed for copyright infringement. The district court found that Ashton was the sole owner of the copyright in the user interface, and Ross appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Choy, J.)

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