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Part 2: Troll Wars: Defending Against the Tony Sopranos of the Legal World

Note: This blog is cross-posted from Mike Dillon’s personal blog. 

What’s notable about the patent troll problem is that these entities seldom win their lawsuits. But their business model isn’t predicated on going to trial; instead it is dependent on casting as wide a net as possible knowing that some percentage of companies will pay a license fee rather than incurring the cost of litigation. A good illustration of this is Innovatio IP Ventures LLC, a patent troll that owns Wi-Fi patents (originally acquired from Broadcom Corporation) and claims they apply to everyone who uses a Wi-Fi connection. By some estimates Innovatio has sent out more than 10,000 letters threatening litigation unless the recipient pays a license fee of several thousand dollars.  If your corner coffee shop or diner has a Wi-Fi connection they likely have been the recipient of one of these letters.

As a result, patent trolls, like Innovatio, invest little effort or expense in “mapping” the claims of their patent against a thorough understanding of an allegedly infringing company’s products or conduct to determine whether their allegations will hold up at trial. But, they really don’t need to because their objective isn’t to win a trial, but rather to intimidate a company into paying a license fee.  Think of them as the Tony Sopranos of the legal world.

http://www.tuxboard.com/photos/2013/06/Tony-Soprano-Wallpaper.jpg

http://www.tuxboard.com/photos/2013/06/Tony-Soprano-Wallpaper.jpg

If a case does get litigated and they lose, it has little impact on the patent troll because the only consequence is that they incur their expense of litigation. Even this isn’t much, given that in most of these cases the attorneys representing the patent trolls are compensated on a contingency basis – meaning they get paid a percentage of whatever is recovered.  If there’s no recovery, the patent troll pays no attorney fees. As a result, patent trolls really have little downside risk.

In the past, Adobe, like many companies, treated claims from patent trolls as a “cost of doing business” and handled it accordingly seeking to resolve the case in the most cost efficient way possible, including by paying a license fee.  Over the past two years; however, we’ve changed our approach. Now, we are channeling our inner corporate Albert Finney  and when faced with a patent troll case we fight them using a variety of tools. In some cases this is a motion to transfer the lawsuit to different jurisdiction, or to disqualify the law firm representing the patent troll because have previously represented Adobe and have a conflict of interest. In others, we’ve asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to review whether the asserted patent should be invalidated. We’ve successfully deployed other strategies as well.

The results have been positive. Here’s a recent example. Select Retrieval is a privately held, patent-holding company based in Texas. It doesn’t produce anything – other than litigation.  One of its only assets is a patent (6,128,617) that covers the way in which information from a database is displayed. This patent was granted in October, 2000 to David Lowry of Medford, Oregon. A decade later the patent was acquired by Select Retrieval. Needless to say, they then filed patent infringement lawsuits against hundreds of companies across the country. One of those lawsuits was filed in Southern California against a number of retailers, including PacSun, an Adobe customer.  Under patent law you can be sued if you make, use or sell an infringing product. Patent trolls have taken advantage of this by now suing not only the company that makes the allegedly infringing product, but also their customers that use them. In this case, Select Retrieval sued the customers of a number of technology companies, including Adobe, in courts around the country hoping that these customers would put pressure on the technology providers to settle. Instead, Adobe agreed to defend and indemnify PacSun against this claim.

From our initial analysis it was clear that the underlying Adobe product did not infringe. Consequently, we filed an answer denying the allegations and proceeded to prepare the case for trial. Along the way, Select Retrieval dismissed or settled with all but one of the other defendants, and made several attempts to settle with us. The first was a settlement offer of $210,000, to which we replied “no”. (Actually, that may have been prefaced with a profanity.)  Five months later, Select Retrieval offered a reduced settlement of $69,000, to which we again said “no”. Then shortly before opening claim construction briefs were due, Select Retrieval offered to settle for $30,000. Once again, we again said “no”.

A  few months before the claim construction hearing (a key hearing where the court provides an interpretation of patent claims)  they approached us again. This time they offered to settle for what is known as a covenant not to sue. In legal parlance it means we didn’t pay a dime in licensing fees and they dismissed the case.  We continue to battle with Select Retrieval in other courts, but this one case against PacSun is over.

As I mentioned, this is just one example of a successful outcome for Adobe in responding to cases filed against our company and its customers. And, we are not alone in taking this more aggressive approach. Many companies, from Build.com  to Newegg to Rackspace are doing the same thing.

Given all this, you may be asking: “Why don’t more companies fight back?”

And, why did Select Retrieval settle for nothing?

Adobe named a FORTUNE ‘100 Best’ employer

Fortune100-2014-resizeThe 2014 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work for list  is officially out and we are thrilled to see Adobe is on it. Packed with well-respected companies across industries, the list is highly regarded and we are grateful to our employees for making it possible.

Since placement is largely determined by a survey of randomly selected U.S. employees, our results tell me we’re on the right track. And, we are committed to continue creating an environment where our people can excel. Engaged employees directly contribute to Adobe’s ability to develop innovative products, go above and beyond for our customers, and ultimately our businesses success.

Over the last year, we made incredible progress executing on our strategy in digital media and marketing. We also made some big bets to innovate in our people practices by abolishing the much maligned annual review. It’s exciting to see our momentum reflected in this achievement. Learn why Adobe is a great place to work and join us!

Donna

Inspiration in Animation

Student Author: Marné Pool

Marné Pool is an AYV Scholarships recipient from San Jose, California. She participated in AYV at Willow Glen High School in San Jose. Marné is currently studying Digital Art and Animation at Cogswell Polytechnical College in Sunnyvale, California.

This semester I am taking my first animation class! Since I want to be an animator, I was really excited to finally learn about it. The class is focused on 2D animation so we use traditional techniques to create short animations.

When I first started, I had a vague idea of how the process worked. It was quite difficult at first! There were many techniques, like how to roll or flip the paper, which took a bit of time to get the hang of.

We started with a simple ball bounce to learn the most basic concepts and from there we worked up to more complicated assignments. I realized that one of the most important things to understand is timing. The timing makes an animation believable, which helps the audience connect to the story you are trying to tell. If the timing is off, the viewer will become distanced from the piece and lose interest.

Although I would like to do 3-D animation, knowing the techniques of 2D will help me a lot — all the same principles must be applied for a successful animation.

After the ball drop, we did all the standard tests like a leaf falling, flour sack drop, water splash and a brick drop. Each object reacts differently when dropped, some are hard and rigid, while others are smoother and organic.  Each assignment required that we shoot our own reference — it’s a very hands on kind of thing! These assignments take a lot of time and effort to get the right feel. After lots of hours and thick stacks of paper, we have a few seconds of animation finished!

After working on objects, we moved on to characters. Achieving a smooth, believable character walk took a few attempts, but I did find it more natural animating a human, since I’m more familiar with the way people move.

For our final project, we are creating 15–30 second shorts involving one character interacting with a 2 liter soda bottle. We must display a change in emotion as they interact with the bottle. It has to be an obvious difference from the beginning to the end of the sequence. This will require that I create storyboards, an animatic, and finally, the many passes of the actual animations.

Although the work can be tedious, this class is very inspiring. I look at the animated movies from my childhood with a new appreciation. I now understand the extent of the work that went into each scene. All the subtleties of the characters stand out to me. I love all the little details in the animation that give the characters a connection to the audience.  These otherwise cold, flat pictures come alive and tell beautiful heartwarming stories. I aspire to create the same kind of magic in my own work someday.

Major Update to Creative Cloud Now Available

Holy cloud computing Batman.  Adobe has released a big, huge, enormous update to Creative Cloud this early summer evening (it’s summer here in California, Southern hemisphere folks).  We have 15, count ‘em, new desktop applications – now branded CC to signify their future as connected, socially-integrated apps.  That’s Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver and many, many (ok, twelve) more.

CreativeCloud_Logo[4]

And no, that doesn’t mean you have to be connected to the Interwebs to use them or that Photoshop is now “in the browser”, as I overheard some tech guru tell someone the other day. Adobe evangelist, the great Terry White, busted those myths a wee while back, here.  The CC apps are just part of what we have to offer, with new community and publishing services integrated into the Creative Cloud experience.

Check out what the creative cloud team is saying, here.

Thanks again for using Creative Cloud. If you have any questions or comments, please post them in our forums, where we are continuing the conversation.

 

 

 

Marketing: Fine Art or Blunt Object?

Marketing, at times, can be a blunt object. It can be in your face, intrusive and repetitive. But as more marketing has gone digital, marketers have access to data and insights that allow us to understand our customers better. This brings an opportunity to learn more about our audience and deliver more personalized customer experiences that are better tailored and better timed.

Last week, I had the opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities for customer insights and analytics with fellow CMOs John Boris of Shutterfly, and Heidi Melin of Plex Systems, at a Churchill Club talk here in Silicon Valley. A few key takeaways:

  • People want personalized experiences – Consumers want to receive information that is relevant to them and they value personalized experiences.
  • Collaboration is key – It is now more important than ever for organizations to work cross-functionally. We formed a Marketing Insights and Operations group to be a “single source of truth” for customer data and marketing performance here at Adobe. This group consists of Adobe employees from sales, customer support, global marketing and product marketing, and meets to align all marketing data collected across the company.
  • The right data, not just ‘big data’, is a huge opportunity – We use data at every single point in our marketing campaigns to understand campaign effectiveness, mix modeling, media and website optimization, and overall impact and ROI. Developments to customer insights are evolving, and they aren’t slowing down anytime soon. That means big opportunities for innovation. It’s important to know what you’re looking for before you start collecting data to make sure that data is actionable. I like what Fatemeh Khatibloo of Forrester Research, the moderator of our talk, said – “It’s not about big data, it’s about the right data.”

The impact on brands is huge when marketing is personalized for the consumer and online experiences are rewarding, and I believe it makes all the difference. A replay of last week’s talk is below – or you can view it here.  Take a look and let us know what you think.

Ideacodes Team Joins Adobe

Adobe today announced that the Ideacodes team is joining Adobe.  Ideacodes is a leading creative consultancy, based in San Francisco, that specializes in the design and user experience of smart applications, digital products and networked communities.

“For the last nine years we’ve worked to re-envision the design of digital products and create the ultimate user experience for their customers,” said Emily Chang and Max Kiesler, co-founders of Ideacodes. “We’re thrilled to join Adobe at a time when Creative Cloud is beginning to take form, the potential to harness the power of connected networks is being realized, and the influence of good design on experience is being appreciated and expected from people worldwide.”

The co-founders of Ideacodes are joining Adobe as Creative Directors of Creative Cloud, bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and experience in design and creative strategy.

“Our job at Adobe is to deliver an incredible experience every time a customer accesses Creative Cloud,” said Jeff Veen, vice president, Product Management, Adobe Creative Cloud. “The Ideacodes team will help us realize our goal of making Creative Cloud indispensable for creatives worldwide.”

Last week we also announced that Thumb Labs, a small team of mobile developers that have worked with Behance over the years, were joining the Adobe team to bring great mobile experiences to Creative Cloud members.

We look forward to working with Emily and Max from Ideacodes!

Photoshop’s Night at The Museum

Last night the great and the good of New York’s media, publishing and creative industries gathered, with Adobe, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The occasion, a reception to celebrate Adobe’s sponsorship of a unique exhibition – Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop.

Adobe’s chief marketing officer, Ann Lewnes, kicked things off before CEO Shantanu Narayen welcomed everyone and introduced Thomas Knoll, co-inventor of Photoshop and Adobe’s newest Digital Imaging Fellow.

Shantanu and Photoshop co-inventor Thomas Knoll

Shantanu and Photoshop co-inventor Thomas Knoll

The exhibition is a reminder that the urge to manipulate photos – for good and for bad, for art and for propaganda – has been with us since the medium itself was invented. The exhibition also reminds us of the profound impact that Adobe Photoshop has made on our visual culture.  Creative people all over the world have pushed publishing, art, and visual media forward using techniques that were either too complex or simply not possible before Photoshop.  Because of this, controversy is never far away from Photoshop.

One of our core values at Adobe is to conduct ourselves in a responsible, socially conscious manner. As we continue to evolve the interaction of art and science within Photoshop, we look forward to the incredible visual content our customers will continue deliver and the positive influences it may have in our shared human experience.

In Defense of Marketing

“You can’t prove advertising really works.”  “Marketing is all gut, there’s no science to it.”  “The marketing department is a cost center, not a revenue driver.”  As marketers, we’ve been hearing this for decades.  And even as new marketing channels and technologies have arrived on the scene – including many that savvy digital marketers see as game-changers – new doubts and stigmas have arrived with them.

There’s never been a better time to be a marketer.  That’s how I see it.  The creative tools we have at our disposal make it easier than ever to turn a great idea into something real.  New technology has given us new ways to connect with customers and measure the impact of our work. Marketing matters more than ever.

But not everyone is convinced.  According to a recent study by The Fournaise Marketing Group, more than 70% of CEOs believe marketers are too disconnected from business results.  The view from consumers isn’t much better.  A new study just released by Adobe shows 68% of those surveyed find online ads “annoying.”  “Distracting,” “invasive” and “creepy” were not far behind.  What’s more, a recent article making the rounds in marketing circles calls for the death of the CMO position because, among other reasons, “Marketing impact is often hard to measure… …to know whether all those millions of dollars spent have led to an increase in real sales.”

This is nonsense. And Adobe is calling BS.

Today, we launched a brand new marketing campaign we’re calling “Metrics, not myths.” Our approach is to identify top myths about digital marketing that plague brands, agencies, chief marketing officers and CEOs and turn them on their head — with irony, humor, a provocative point of view and proof.

Our first myth, “Marketing is BS” runs in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and numerous online outlets today.  Other myths – like “Social Media is Worthless” and “Marketers Hate Big Data” – will roll out in the coming days and weeks. The whole campaign will be bolstered with a robust social campaign, some fun videos and more.

I hope you’ll pardon our French, but we want this campaign to be honest in capturing both the passion and genuine frustration marketers feel when their contributions are undervalued and they’re told the impact of their work isn’t measureable.  As a company that’s served marketers and designers for 30 years, Adobe feels their pain.  As a CMO who spends 74% of her own marketing budget on digital, I know better.  Marketing’s impact can be measured. Creativity and data can work beautifully together.  We’re willing to prove it.

Digital marketing can work.  More importantly – with so many eyeballs and so much opportunity moving online, to mobile, to social – digital marketing has to work.  As a career marketer, I feel strongly about this. If you agree, I hope you’ll join the conversation.  After all, there’s never been a better time to bust a few myths.  There’s never been a better time to be a marketer.

Ann Lewnes is Chief Marketing Officer at Adobe.  Follow her on Twitter at @alewnes

For More Information:

 


Adobe to Revoke Code Signing Certificate

Adobe is currently investigating what appears to be the inappropriate use of an Adobe code signing certificate for Windows. We plan to revoke the impacted certificate on October 4, 2012 for all software code signed after July 10, 2012. Customers should not notice anything out of the ordinary during the certificate revocation process. Our investigation to date has shown no evidence that any other sensitive information—including Adobe source code or customer, financial or employee data—was compromised.

What does this mean for you?

The revocation of the certificate affects the Windows platform and three Adobe AIR applications* that run on both Windows and Macintosh. The revocation does not impact any other Adobe software for Macintosh or other platforms. The vast majority of customers of Adobe software for Windows will also not be affected. A small number of customers, in particular administrators in managed Windows environments, may need to take certain action. To determine whether you or your organization are impacted, please refer to the support page on Adobe.com.

Is your Adobe software vulnerable because of this issue? No. This issue has no impact on the security of your genuine Adobe software. Are there other security risks to you? We have strong reason to believe that this issue does not present a general security risk. The evidence we have seen has been limited to a single isolated discovery of two malicious utilities signed using the certificate and indicates that the certificate was not used to sign widespread malware.

In addition to the revocation of the certificate, we have taken the following steps to protect all users and minimize the impact of the revocation of the certificate for our customers:

  • We are working closely with the security community to allow security software providers, such as antivirus or intrusion detection and prevention vendors, to develop protections for customers to detect and protect from the inappropriately signed utilities.
  • We are in the process of updating Adobe software by re-signing applications using a new code signing certificate to ensure existing product installations and new downloads continue to function without interruption.
  • We are working diligently both internally and with external partners, including law enforcement, to gather data, examine our findings, and determine the appropriate course of action.

Adobe takes security very seriously, and we are committed to determining how the signatures misusing the Adobe code signing certificate were created given the stringent security measures in place to protect our certificate store and our infrastructure in general.

* Adobe Muse and Adobe Story AIR applications as well as Acrobat.com desktop services

Additional Resources:

 

 

Thoughts on PhotoshopWorld

Vegas? Photoshop?  What can possibly go wrong?   Twice a year the faithful gather at PhotoshopWorld, called together by Scott Kelby and The National Association of Photoshop Professionals.   This week, the West Coast edition is taking place in Las Vegas.

A record number of Photoshop pros, over 4000, have descended on Sin City for three days of presentations, in-depth training and inspiration — everyone from digital re-touchers, commercial, wedding and portrait photographers, videographers and graphic designers.

Kicking off proceedings was a typically funky keynote session.  Over the years NAPP’s keynote themes and presentations have become the stuff of geek legend, ranging from Star Trek, Hard Rock, Heavyweight Boxing, NBA, Project Runway and Olympic horse dressage.  One from that list might not be true.  This year (as if we haven’t already had enough of it) it’s the Presidential Election: In Photoshop We Trust.

At this morning’s keynote Adobe’s Grand Photoshop Poobah, Winston Hendrickson, kicked off our section with a State of The Union address on inspiration, creativity and how our engineers are working closely with Apple to ensure that Photoshop can take advantage the new Retina display on the latest MacBook Pros.  It’s coming soon!

Dr. Russell Brown then gave a quick demo of Photoshop Touch 1.3, announced and available today (with Retina display support).  Russell seemed most excited that he was finally able to say that we have now integrated “The Power of German Engineering” into the Photoshop product line – Touch is developed by our talented team in Hamburg, GermanyVorsprung Durch Technik, for all you old ad luvvies out there!

Adobe evangelist Julieanne Kost then toured us around Lightroom 4, Photoshop CS6 and sneaked Digital Publishing Suite (DPS), Single Edition – which will be added to Adobe Creative Cloud in the next few weeks.   It’s easy to see that DPS Single Edition could be a huge boon for photographers – imagine a wedding photographer now having an iPad App, available free from the Apple Store, that showcases their work in an interactive catalogue or brochure.  Single Edition allows you to publish an unlimited number of single, stand-alone iPad apps.  This is another example of how we’re adding new capabilities continually to Creative Cloud, at no extra cost to members.

The vibe at Photoshopworld was, as it always is, full of energy and boundless enthusiasm.  Not many companies are lucky enough to product that can inspire passionate zeal, like Photoshop does.   At Adobe, it’s not something we take for granted and the Photoshop team are hard at work delivering new features that will ensure…….another four years in digital imaging power.

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