Adobe wins patent infringement suit against Macromedia

Balance of power

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

The web design software market suffered a change in the balance of power, probably temporary, yesterday, after a jury found Macromedia Inc software infringes upon a US patent held by rival Adobe Inc. Adobe was awarded damages of about $2.8m, and said it expects to be awarded an injunction against further infringement.

Macromedia's CEO Rob Burgess said: "It is unfortunate, and we believe wrong, that Adobe has chosen this field to compete. Unfortunately, it is our customers, and particularly our mutual customers, that will be harmed." The company said the judgment will not materially affect its financial condition.

Bryan Lamkin, senior VP of Adobe's graphics business, said: "We've maintained all along that Macromedia infringes this patent. While we would have preferred to settle this issue out of court, we are satisfied that the validity of this key innovation has been upheld."

The "key innovation" in question is so-called "tabbed palettes", a feature that appears to be merely a way of reducing GUI clutter by allowing users to flip between palettes by clicking on tabs, and to configure those palettes. Adobe sued in August 2000 after Macromedia began implementing a uniform user interface style across its product line.

Macromedia did not say if it intends to appeal the decision, and declined to comment beyond its prepared statement.

However, the firm did file counter complaints against Adobe in September 2000, and again in October 2001, on both counts claiming patent infringement. The 2000 case, based on patents on the blending of elements and displaying and editing sound waveforms, will go to court on Monday.

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