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Orange 2

Untitled Document

Here is an interesting article from the New York Times about Apple II clones, published in February 29, 1984
original here


The United States International Trade Commission ruled unanimously yesterday that nearly two dozen manufacturers in Asia had infringed on patents and copyrights held by the Apple Computer Inc., and it banned the foreign companies from exporting the imitation Apple machines to the United States.

The commission said that within two weeks, it would issue an ''exclusionary order'' with details of the decision. Before the order takes effect, President Reagan will have 60 days to accept or alter it.

Yesterday's ruling was another major victory for Apple and other computer makers that have been fighting imitators, both foreign and domestic. In September, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that the Franklin Computer Corporation of New Jersey had violated Apple's copyrights on computer programs known as operating systems, which are etched on a computer's circuitry.

That case was the first to establish that all computer programs, or software, can be copyrighted, even if they are indistinguishable from a computer's hardware. Franklin has agreed to pay Apple $2.5 million in damages and to design its own programs for its Apple-compatible machines. In the last month, the International Business Machines Corporation has obtained consent decrees in Federal court against two manufacturers of machines compatible with the I.B.M. Personal Computer.

The commission ruling yesterday, which involved copies of the Apple IIe, means that computer makers may have a more powerful weapon against the foreign manufacturers, primarily in Taiwan and South Korea, whose relatively inexpensive machines are sold under names such as Pineapple and Orange.

''To the extent that other manufacturers have valid copyrights on their software, this means they will also be able to seek protection,'' Michael Stein, the commission's general counsel, said last night.

The commission's ruling was unusual because traditional import restrictions on products such as steel or televisions are usually based on a finding of unfair pricing. Relatively few have involved copyright issues.

''It was a extraordinarily difficult question for us,'' Mr. Stein said. ''But the Franklin case offered some guidance.''

The ruling may prove most important for the precedent it sets. The number of imitation Apples appears to be declining, primarily because Apple has been forced by competition to cut the Apple IIe price almost in half, to about $1,400. Foreign-built machines cost from $800 to $1,100.

Apple, which is based in Cupertino, Calif., has pursued foreign manufacturers overseas, as well. Last month in Taipei, Taiwan, the owners of six local companies were sentenced to eight months in prison for illegally reproducing Apple designs.

Nevertheless, Albert A. Eisenstat, Apple's vice president and general counsel, said: ''The impact of this is that we no longer have to fight imitators case by case. We can now have Customs issue a blanket order to seize the machines.''

It was unclear, however, whether yesterday's order also covered Apple imitations that do not contain the computer chip, known as a ROM, for ''read only memory.'' The chip contains the copy of Apple's program that tells the computer where to store information and how to perform other essential functions.

To evade Customs officials, machines have been imported without the offending ROM chip. The chips are inserted later.

Apple has sought to exclude the ROM-less computers as well. ''We will have to wait until the judgment is issued before we determine if that was a success,'' Mr. Eisenstat said.

The move to ban imitations was vigorously opposed by several importers.

One of the companies inserting ROM's in the United States is the Collins International Trading Corporation of Los Angeles, which sells a $1,100 computer called the Orange Plus II. It could not be determined immediately whether the Orange Plus II was affected by the order. Last night, Martin R. Gold, an attorney for Collins, said, ''I don't think any finding of violation is warranted against Collins.''

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