May 2, 2002

Adobe Wins?

I gotta say… this is ridiculous. I can’t believe that one company can sue another company over something like “tabbed palettes” and win. Adobe did just that today. Does this mean that in a few years every company will have to devise its own unique method for displaying information in windows? I can’t even get my mind around how amazed I am that Adobe won. Someone please explain.

[Update: Rob shares Adobe’s very effective demostration of how Macromedia’s floaters mirror some of the functionality of Adobe’s floaters. And also a link to a very heartfelt letter from one concerned end user.]

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Nick Runco

well, they did say customizable tabbed palettes, which may mean that dragging them to make new ones, etc is the problem. i dunno. otherwise that same judge should make microsoft and apple pay xerox for “windows”

Kris Rzepkowski

funny you should bring up Xerox. I worked at the Big X and I wrote patent proposals for everything from interface widgets to icon designs. Imagine hunkering down to a 25 page legal description of your print icon after completing your hard fought battle with developers, “product managers” and other “smart” people.

Companies take this stuff seriously as evidenced by the $2 million that Adobe won in the settlement. Xerox actually saw patent enforcement as a revenue stream. So be careful the next time you use a “standard” interaction for the sake of a user. You might just get sued.

Rachelle Bowden

kris’s first post!? yay!

Walt Dickinson

Heh, that’s what I was thinking. Good to have Kris’ perspective. How far can this go though Kris? What if the radio button and the check box didn’t exist. Should I be able to patent them? What about floaters in general? Who owns the patent on little windows who float above the rest? Seems bizarre to me that something like a tabbed palette can be patentable. But on the other hand I can understand patenting an entire piece of software. So I guess it’s just difficult to see where the line should be drawn. On either side.

Nick Runco

walt is comfortably vague. :)