Adobe, Macromedia meet in court

Adobe, Macromedia meet in court

Adobe Systems opened its courtroom arguments against Web design rival Macromedia yesterday in a federal court. The two companies accuse each other of patent infringement for Web design software tools.

Adobe claims that the San Francisco software company violates two of its patents on tabbed palettes, which provide a user interface for displaying several sets of information in the same space. Adobe's tabbed palettes permit users to drag data or editing effects from within a palette window into another screen. Adobe filed its case in the US District Court for the District of Delaware in 2000.

Macromedia countered with a claim that the San Jose, California, publishing software company infringes on Macromedia's patents for a draw-based editor for Web pages and a hierarchical structure editor for Web sites. Macromedia rejects Adobe's patent-infringement claims, insisting that Adobe's patents are unenforceable.

The two sides faced off in court as Macromedia announced a broad set of upgrades to Web design and development tools.

Representatives from the two companies were not immediately available for comment on the lawsuit yesterday.

Applications made by several other software companies currently use tabbed palettes or similar constructions, leaving open the possibility of further lawsuits if Adobe prevails in court.

Several patents covering broadly used technologies remain under watch by service providers and application developers.

British Telecommunications PLC (BT) is suing Prodigy Communications for patent infringement. BT claims a patent for inventing hyperlink technology, one of the core technologies for connecting Web pages together. If BT prevails in the US Federal Court for the Southern District of New York, the company could move on to assert its claim for royalties from every Internet service provider.

Overture Services, formerly GoTo, filed suit earlier this month against Google, claiming Google infringes on a patent for bid-for-placement search results. Overture's service allows companies to bid for the highest placement in search results based on relevant keywords. obtained a patent on delivering software as a service through Web browsers last year. While McAfee intends to use the technology to deliver antivirus software updates to subscribers, the patent potentially affects application service providers delivering productivity software as a subscription service to customers. McAfee has said it does not intend to extract royalties from service providers, and no formal challenges to the patent have been publicised.

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