A computer program that successfully incorporates an intuitive graphical user interface possesses a tremendous competitive advantage over its competitors. Interface development accordingly has become a critical aspect of software development. Without legal protection, however, this advantage is illusory as competitors are otherwise free to copy unprotected interface features. Interface creators have predominately used copyright law to protect the overall "look and feel" of their interfaces. However, copyright protection for interfaces increasingly appears to be the exception rather than the rule.
John P. Musone,
Obtaining and Enforcing Trade Dress for Computer Graphical User Interfaces - A Practitioner's Guide,
Rich. J.L. & Tech
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/jolt/vol4/iss2/3