The Microsoft-Real battle got most of the press, but another classic rivalry was going on, one tier down in the software food chain. Coverage was limited as a patent beef between bitter rivals Adobe and Macromedia went to trial and was settled in Adobe's favor. As far as Unspun could see, the big wire services left the story alone. The Register ran brief coverage from ComputerWire, but that was the extent of it.
Adobe had sued its competitor in 2000, claiming it infringed on an Adobe user-interface patent, "tabbed palettes," after Macromedia introduced the UI technique in its Flash multimedia-authoring program. Macromedia promptly countersued on two of its own patents. So far, so normal. What usually happens next is that the two sides get together and agree to cross-license each other's patents, and the problem goes away. Not this time. A jury awarded Adobe $2.8 million. Macromedia gets its appeal at-bat in the same courtroom starting next week.
Both CNET's News.com and IDG have been following the story. (IDG publications are the ones ending in "-world.") The best background we saw was in an Infoworld story filed Monday when the trial opened. Reporter George A. Chidi went over the history and summarized some of the other outstanding patent fights: BT-Prodigy over hyperlinks, Overture-Google over bidding for search placement.
Software patents are inherently controversial, but you would hardly know it from the mainstream coverage of this case. Look to Slashdot for a reflection of some of the passions that software patents raise among the geekerati. The subject of Flash itself is a lightning rod to the Slashdot set: "I think the most useful thing anyone has ever implemented in 'Flash' is the 'Bypass Flash intro' button." - Keith Dawson
Adobe wins patent infringement suit against Macromedia (ComputerWire)
Adobe, Macromedia meet in court
Adobe Beats Macromedia in Patent Case
Adobe wins Macromedia patent suit
Will Flash Be Taken Off The Shelf?