Adobe: Put It On My Tab (8/11/00)

What, you think Apple's the only company willing to drag competitors into court for copying its designs? Not hardly. Intellectual property litigation has long since surpassed such activities as mountain biking, racquetball, and routine caffeine overdose as the most popular pastime in the high-tech industry today. Take, for example, the latest lawsuit likely to influence the future of the Mac-using creative professional: Adobe is suing rival Macromedia for patent infringement, because the latter company simply won't stop putting tabbed palettes in its products. How gauche.

According to MacWEEK, Adobe holds a patent for the technique of using tabs to switch between different tool sets in a single floating palette, which it filed in 1994. A MacCentral article indicates that Adobe first contacted Macromedia about the infringement four years ago, when Macromedia's Fireworks product debuted sporting tabbed palettes. Macromedia was apparently unmoved, since the company continued to use tabbed palettes in its new products. Adobe fired another warning shot in "May of last year." Still no effect. Then, last month, Macromedia released Flash 5, which included-- all together, now-- tabbed palettes, at which point Adobe decided to file suit.

Macromedia, for its part, can't exactly deny that it violated Adobe's patent. After all, the tabbed palettes are right there for the world to see. So its defense is similar to the one that Apple used when it got sued by that Hanoch Shalit pipsqueak over ColorSync: the patent is "invalid and unenforceable" because it never should have been granted in the first place, since it was "attained by not disclosing prior art." Once this whole thing shakes out (and we all know how long that can take), there's a possibility that Macromedia will have to choose some other method of letting its customers manage their tools-- or pay a license fee to Adobe for the privilege of retaining its current interface choice. Hey, it's not as much fun as a potential Qube lawsuit, but creative professionals need courtroom drama, too.

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The above scene was taken from the 8/11/00 episode:

August 11, 2000: Forget the XtremMac-- AtAT is proud to endorse the 1200 GHz hoaXtremMac, instead. Meanwhile, AppleInsider revives the "Vetoed 650 MHz IBM G4" rumor, and Adobe slaps Macromedia with a lawsuit for violating its "tabbed palette" patent...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2476: Terahertz Is Where It's At (8/11/00)   Every once in a while, one of our countless fans and groupies will temporarily suspend the screaming and the swooning and all that great rock-star-worship stuff to ask us why we haven't prostituted AtAT's hard-won popularity by doing cheesy product endorsements...

  • 2477: Motorola & IBM: Play Nice (8/11/00)   Okay, okay, we give in; no more jabs at Mac OS Rumors. (For a few days, at least.) The legendary big dog of the Apple rumor yard may have seemed a bit off its game for the past year or so, what with infrequent updates, declining accuracy, and Rumors Lite™-style content-- not to mention accusations of lifting info directly from AppleInsider and reposting it without credit...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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