The multinational technology corporation Apple Inc. has been a participant in various legal proceedings and claims since it began operation and, like its competitors and peers, engages in litigation in its normal course of business for a variety of reasons. In particular, Apple is known for and promotes itself as actively and aggressively enforcing its intellectual property interests.

From the 1980s to the present, Apple has been plaintiff or defendant in civil actions in the United States and other countries. Some of these actions have determined significant case law for the information technology industry and many have captured the attention of the public and media.


Apple Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corporation, was a copyright infringement lawsuit in which Apple Computer, Inc. (now Apple Inc.) sought to prevent Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard from using visual graphical user interface (GUI) elements that were similar to those in Apple’s Lisa and Macintosh operating systems. The court ruled that, “Apple cannot get patent-like protection for the idea of a graphical user interface, or the idea of a desktop metaphor

[under copyright law] In the midst of the Apple v. Microsoft lawsuit, Xerox also sued Apple alleging that Mac’s GUI was heavily based on Xerox’s. The district court dismissed Xerox’s claims without addressing whether Apple’s GUI infringed Xerox’s. Apple lost all claims in the Microsoft suit except for the ruling that the trash can icon and folder icons from Hewlett-Packard’s New Wave windows application were infringing. The lawsuit was filed in 1988 and lasted four years; the decision was affirmed on appeal in 1994.

Apple Computer, Inc. v. Samsung

Apple says that Samsung took key features of its phones and tablets including the slide-to-unlock feature that brings a smartphone or tablet to life with a single swipe gesture.  It also claims that the South Korean electronics company took tap-from-search, a feature that allows users to instantly make a phone call or view a location on a map by tapping on a link in their mobile browsers. Apple identifies similarities between the voice-activated assistant Siri and Google’s voice controls, and infringements of their autocorrect and unified search software.

 Apple Computer, Inc. v. Google

Apple is no stranger to court, especially when it comes to Google. After all, there are several companies that are making phones using Google’s Android software. Steve Jobs repeatedly called the Android a “stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.” Apparently things got so heated between Apple and Google that former Google CEO (and current chairman) Eric Schmidt stepped down from his position on Apple’s Board of Directors. In 2010, Apple sued Samsung. Google had to step in and help Samsung partly due to a ‘Mobile Application Distribution Agreement’. A Google lawyer revealed that the company agreed to “provide partial or full indemnity with regard to four patents.” And in one of the highest-profile lawsuits in technology, Motorola sued Apple at the same time Samsung was taken to court. Motorola accused Apple of infringing several patents, which included how cellphones operated on a 3G network. On the other hand, Apple claimed that Motorola violated its patent to certain smartphone features. The case was dismissed in 2012, the year that Google acquired Motorola, on grounds that neither company had sufficient evidence. In fact, frustrated judges have thrown the Apple vs Motorola out of court three times, telling them to solve their problems between themselves. Although Apple hasn’t attacked Google, probably due to the fact that Google provides a variety of iOS software. Instead, the company chooses to go for the company selling Android devices, but it seem that the search giant is intent on defending Android. It was only 16 May this year that Apple and Google released a joint statement saying that they have agreed to settle all patent litigation between them and that they will also “work together in some areas of patent reform”.