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Judge Stops Sale of Quattro Pro Spreadsheet : Computers: Borland International wanted the ruling to allow for a quick appeal. The judge earlier said their software infringed on Lotus 1-2-3.


SAN FRANCISCO — Borland International Inc. on Thursday was ordered to stop selling spreadsheet software that a federal judge in Boston ruled infringes on Lotus Development Corp.'s 1-2-3 program.

However, Borland, which itself asked the judge to issue the injunction, immediately tried to turn Lotus' victory on its head by claiming that Borland could actually end up benefiting more.

"We're extremely pleased with the outcome of today's hearing," said Dick O'Donnell, a Borland spokesman. "It allows us to take this case immediately to the Court of Appeals."

There, O'Donnell maintained, Borland will prevail in the 3-year-old copyright-infringement case. Borland officials contend that the judge's ruling is inconsistent with the rulings of other federal courts and copyright law scholars.

On Aug. 12, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Keeton ruled that a feature of Borland's Quattro Pro spreadsheet that makes it compatible with Lotus 1-2-3 infringes on Lotus' copyrights. Lotus 1-2-3 is the world's top-selling spreadsheet.

O'Donnell said Thursday's order will not have much effect on Borland because the company is about to start shipping copies of Quattro Pro "minus the infringing feature." Those versions should be in stores within a matter of weeks, he said.

Under the injunction, Borland was ordered to stop selling the software and to notify vendors within the next week that the software is illegal. Personal computer users who already own the Borland spreadsheet are not affected.

The case is being watched closely by personal computer user groups, which filed a so-called friend-of-the-court brief supporting Borland.

"This (Keeton's ruling) flies in the face of what makes computers and computer software at least halfway easy to use--that you don't have to relearn everything from scratch," said Tony Barcellos, a college math teacher who is president of the Sacramento PC Users Group, an 11-year-old organization.

The computer and software industries, heeding the requests of users, have increasingly been moving to standardized material that can be used on systems made by any vendor.

Keeton scheduled a trial on the damages portion of the case for Oct. 3, 1994, but told both sides that he expects the appeals court to decide the matter before then.

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