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Adobe has won
May 3, 2002 2:22 AM   Subscribe

Adobe has won 2.8 million from Macromedia for "patent infringements." Apparently Macromedia may be forced to pull Flash MX from their product line. As an avid Flash-developer I am personally affected. Is there something that we can do about this?
posted by banished (24 comments total)

 
There hasn't even been an injunction issued yet so I would not go hanging up my developer tools just yet. There will certainly be an appeal also and either way Flash is not going anywhere. One way or the other you will still have work banished.
posted by anathema at 2:40 AM on May 3, 2002


I think the wisest solution would be for macromedia to come out with a patch for MX.
posted by Modem Ovary at 2:43 AM on May 3, 2002


A trial is scheduled to begin in the same court Monday regarding Macromedia's first countersuit, charging that Adobe's Photoshop image-editing software and its GoLive Web design software infringe on two patents that Macromedia holds for editing tools.

So do we grab that Photoshop 7.0 upgrade while we still can, or spurn it as the work of patent-enforcing killjoys? Oh, the dilemma.
posted by rory at 2:43 AM on May 3, 2002


alleging that the user interface of Macromedia's Flash Web animation tool infringed on Adobe's patent for "tabbed palettes," a feature that allows users of design software to rearrange the work space on the PC screen.

Between this and the ebook mess, Adobe is quickly losing points with me
posted by magullo at 2:59 AM on May 3, 2002


Too bad Adobe is doing this. I agree with magullo—losing points big time. But if anything happens to GoLive, I don't know what I'll do. I rely very heavily on it and the new v. 6.0, complete with workgroup server, is just amazing.

rory: let them battle each other in court all they want but don't let it stop you from getting Photoshop 7.0. It's great, especially if you're OS X. And the file browser is cool. So is the spellcheck.
posted by gutenberg at 3:10 AM on May 3, 2002


I'm curious why everybody is fixating on FlashMX about this, other than the fact the suit was originally brought up in regards to Flash. Macromedia is using tabs in several of their programs. What about them?

Rory: So...are you withholding your boycott decision until it's decided whether Macromedia wins their countersuit? They're engaging in essentially the same behavior now. "They(Adobe) started it" doesn't change that.

Lots of programs use tabs. I think it should be a requirement that whenever a company pulls this crap, the court forces them to put out the money to go after everybody possible at once. This is obviously just the latest in the bitchfight Adobe and Macromedia have been drawing out for ages. Is this a matter of Adobe saying MM have stolen actual code, or something? I don't think I've ever seen it mentioned. I'd understand then.
posted by Su at 4:33 AM on May 3, 2002


*grumbles in realization Rory was probably being sarcastic*
I blame being up too long, having some sort of cold-like thing bothering me the last two days, and the morning sun shining directly into my right eye.
posted by Su at 4:36 AM on May 3, 2002


*gleefully confirms that he was being sarcastic*
'Sokay, that cold-like thing going around is a killer.

A curse on all their houses. Just give me that native OS X goodness, baby.
posted by rory at 4:43 AM on May 3, 2002


The whole thing seems like such a schoolyard fight, Macromedia clearly got the leap on Adobe when it came to the web. Adobe's attempts to catch up have been hit or miss. Livemotion anyone?

Adobe wanted Macromedia to settle out of court, they didn't. Adobe sues Macromedia. Macromedia sues Adobe. Adobe wins. Macromedia (hopefully) wins.

Let's call it even and get back to work ok?
posted by jeremias at 5:05 AM on May 3, 2002


If the fight is over tabs, then MX should be safe, because it doesn't use tabs. Flash 5 had a tabbed interface. MX doesn't.
posted by grumblebee at 5:23 AM on May 3, 2002


If the fight is over tabs, then MX should be safe, because it doesn't use tabs. Flash 5 had a tabbed interface. MX doesn't.

Hmmm. Maybe that accounts for the changes in the interface. I'm having some problems adjusting to the new look, but I'm sure it will become easier with use.

Anybody find a link where the issue is explained in more depth? The concept of "tabbed pallettes" seems as old as a box of index cards to me.
posted by norm29 at 5:42 AM on May 3, 2002


Hey Gutenberg, what does "complete with workgroup server" mean? Does it have CVS built in?

I think we're an all macromedia shop right now -- our designer has been freaking out about how great he thinks new new dreamweaver MX is, but sitespring sounds pretty expensive and unnecessary.
posted by ph00dz at 5:55 AM on May 3, 2002


Apple lost a major lawsuit to Microsoft regarding user interface copying in the late 80's or early 90's. How is it that companies are now winning cases based on user interface issues I wonder. Maybe this case is doomed to fail on appeal?
posted by Tempus67 at 5:58 AM on May 3, 2002


Here's Adobe's demonstration of what they believe the infringement is. In a word, it's a tabbed control where you can click or drag one of the tabs to create a separate control on your workspace.

That should give you an idea of how limited this patent is, and how dumb the lawsuit is.
posted by dhartung at 6:17 AM on May 3, 2002


I really hope Macromedia doesn't have to go back to its former, idiotic "tiny windows everywhere!" style. That was the thing I hated most about Dreamweaver.

Okay, and the bug that selected different files than the one you actually clicked on.

And the lack of nesting templates.

And the inability to save an "invalid" page that was actually valid.

And...

Well. Anyway, the Dreamweaver MX interface is a big improvement...
posted by Foosnark at 6:40 AM on May 3, 2002


I think grumblebee and dhartung are right here. I think this is a limited lawsuit, and FlashMX/DreamweaverMX/etc. already have a different UI to erase the concerns. I think this is merely an issue of back-payment, and would not affect any future development for Macromedia. This is merely what "I think" though, as I, too, have never seen any media outlet properly explain this.

On the other hand, the issue of Apple suing Macromedia is a different issue, that could greatly affect the future of FlashMX.
posted by rex at 6:52 AM on May 3, 2002


jeremias: I'll be willing to call it even when Macromedia adds the unconstitutional DMCA to its bag of legal tricks and arrests a foreign citizen for a "crime" he committed outside the jurisdiction of the United States. Until then, I'll have nothing whatsoever to do with Adobe. Which is a shame, because Photoshop and (to a lesser extent) Illustrator are pretty damn cool.

Tempus67: IANAL, but the difference between today and fifteen years ago seems to be that people in general, and dot-com CEOs, lawyers, the courts, and the PTO in particular, are far more likely to attach the label of "innovation" to ideas ranging from trivially interesting to baldly stupid. For the patent office's part, it has to raise revenue to keep up with the flood of "innovation" generated in part by the dot-com boom, and it found that failing to do any but the most cursory due diligence on a patent allowed them to get stuff out the door more quickly. I'm not sure what the lawyers and courts have been smoking.
posted by Vetinari at 7:01 AM on May 3, 2002


Lotus v. Borland
In 1990, Lotus Development Corporation brought a lawsuit against Borland International for developing and marketing a computer spreadsheet program that contained a single element of the user interface of Lotus 1-2-3, an element referred to as the 1-2-3 menu command system.

After several district court decisions holding that Borland infringed the copyright in the Lotus 1-2-3 program, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit reversed. In its decision, announced on March 9, 1995, the appeals court held that the menu command system of the 1-2-3 is the method of operating the program, and, being so, it is uncopyrightable under Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act.
It was appealed to the US Supreme Court, which deadlocked 4-4, leaving the lower court decision described above intact.

Note that this refers to copyrights as opposed to patents.
posted by NortonDC at 7:18 AM on May 3, 2002


These patents are preposterous. There should be some requirement for uniqueness or innovativeness in applying for a patent. Imagine if the frontiersmen 200 years ago in this country were not allowed to use wooden pegs to hold their chairs together, or to cut logs in such a way that they could be stacked together to build cabins, because some wiseacre in Philadelphia had patented those methods. There needs to be some sort of common sense criteria on which patent applications are rejected. The factors that determine a program's UI should involve usability and simplicity, as determined by research and testing; who first drew a tab of a certain shape or positioned it in a certain location on the screen should be irrelevant.
posted by rushmc at 7:28 AM on May 3, 2002


Adobe doesn't understand the web. Macromedia does. Adobe is losing, so it's going to 'mommy and daddy' judge to say it's not fair.

Adobe, build a better product, and we'll like you. But for now, shoo!
posted by zanpo at 8:12 AM on May 3, 2002


So true. The whole bit with Flash is funny because it just seems they're pissed nobody likes LiveMotion, into which they took the effort to build Macromedia's proprietary format!
ImageReady sucked so hard, they finally just stuffed it in the box with Photoshop. I'm waiting for when they just have PS absorb it.
The last time I used GoLive, its interface was made up of hundreds of little buttons with arcane symbols and no textinfo that I was supposed to memorize. Not to mention it took five steps, three windows and two toolbars just to assign a style to an element.
I think that the developers at Adobe are kind of bored. Their flagship products are pretty much universally accepted as the best you can get, but they seem to feel this pressure to add more STUFF to them. Can somebody tell me why Illustrator10 has a whole tool that does nothing but create lens flares?!? Photoshop7 has a tool for creating background patterns, in case you can't be bothered to go through the four-step cut-and-past process yourself.

Rush: There is a requirement for innovation, etc in the patent system. Unfortunately, it's more and more obvious that they're hardly even looking at the applications anymore ref: recent grant of a patent for swinging sideways granted to a 5year-old kid.
posted by Su at 10:22 AM on May 3, 2002


Tempus67: I thought Microsoft settled out of court in the Apple lawsuit. I could be wrong though. In any event, it (and the Lotus/Borland lawsuit) certainly didn't close the door on suits such as these. I wonder what Macromedia will come up with instead of tabbed palettes. And I wonder when Adobe will get around to suing Quark: they have tabs too! Egads! I'm sure it's just a matter of time.
posted by bcwinters at 11:19 AM on May 3, 2002


"Is there something that we can do about this?"

yep. stop using flash.
posted by jcterminal at 2:06 PM on May 3, 2002


For anyone still listening, Macromedia has a press release about this too.
posted by rex at 6:02 PM on May 3, 2002


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