Adobe vs Macromedia lawsuit details -->


Re: member
Posted on

Details have emerged of Macromedia's lawsuit against Adobe Photoshop and GoLive, showing why Macromedia is attempting to have the courts prevent Adobe from selling its image-editing and Web authoring applications.

According to legal documents filed in the San Francisco federal court, the Adobe applications utilise technology in breach of patents owned by Macromedia. Both patents pertain to WYSIWYG Web-editing functions: the first describes a 'draw-based editor for web pages,' essentially a method of placing objects on a page and having the software automatically convert the layout to HTML. Macromedia alleges this technology is used in both GoLive, Adobe's own Web editing package, and Photoshop.

The second patent is entitled 'hierarchical structure editor for Web sites,' a method for designing how a site is to be organised using drag-and-drop graphical icons. GoLive is alleged to use the same 'top-down' approach to Web site design. Macromedia claims that Adobe has wilfully infringed both patents since at least 1999, and is requesting an injunction restraining Adobe from further infringement. This effectively amounts to a request for Adobe to be forced to stop selling Photoshop and GoLive in their current forms. Macromedia is also demanding unspecified damages.

Ironically, the patents in question were not filed by Macromedia, but by Rae Technology, a company owned by the co-founders of NetObjects, a Web development company. NetObjects' principal product, NetObjects Fusion, had been a WYSIWYG Web site design package, popular on the Wintel platform. In August of this year, the company announced that it could no longer cover its debts and ceased operation. Last month, NetObjects announced that it had sold its assets to Web consultancy firm Website Pros. However, Website Pros did not acquire NetObjects' sizeable catalogue of patents, which were instead snapped up by Macromedia for an undisclosed sum.

As recently as last June, NetObjects' CEO Samir Arora told the Computerwire news service that he believed a number of Web editing products infringed his patents, including Microsoft's Frontpage, and notably Macromedia's Dreamweaver. 'Anything that does WYSIWYG page layouts that auto-generate HTML is violating the patent,' he said. 'We're going after anybody we believe is in violation.'

Now that Macromedia has its hands on the valuable patent, it is using it to go after Adobe. The two companies have been fighting a protracted legal battle since last August, when Adobe issued Macromedia with a patent infringement suit. Macromedia quickly responded with a claim of its own. The matter has yet to be resolved.

'Macromedia does not comment on pending litigation,' said a Macromedia spokesperson. A spokesman for Adobe also declined to comment.
That tells us a lot (I'm not sure why AP didn't have that type of information before dropping a story like that on the public).

The only problem I see is that most of the WYSIWYG HTML editors I can think of (including GoLive CyberStudio) were several versions old by 1998. Usually these types of cases come down to someone filing a patent on widely use ideas, and someone not catching it before approving the patent. To make these cases stick you usually need to show that an idea was both yours and you filed before going to market with it.

In the case of Adobe vs. Macromedia, I don't know if Adobe did this or not. In the case of Macromedia vs. Adobe, I would bet that Rae Technology most likely didn't.

Should make for some interesting stories. Though I would rather see better products that cost less (lets face it, we are going to pay for this in almost every way, not them).