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Davos 2014: A View from the World Economic Forum

Posted by Bryan Lamkin, Senior Vice President of Technology and Corporate Development

I recently returned to California from a fantastic visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It was my first time at Davos, and everything you have heard is true—it is an opportunity to cram a year’s worth of conversations into a few days, and talk directly to amazing thinkers. I am still digesting the discussions, with European and Asian government officials, representatives from the nonprofit and educational sectors, and other business people like me. The news media did a nice job of reporting the major themes that came out of the discussions at Davos. However, there were several interesting themes I picked up on that weren’t widely reported. Let me share a few.

First, Tom Friedman may have taught us all that The World Is Flat eight years ago—an eon ago in Internet time—but the insights in his book are as fresh as ever. Even the bankers were talking about the opportunities presented as the population of the developing world gets online and educated at an unprecedented rate. What this means for Adobe: we need to make sure that we are offering products and services that perform well in all countries where we are able to operate, and not just in our traditional developed-world markets. We believe Adobe provides the world’s best tools for creative people to express their ideas, and we have a responsibility to enable as many people as possible to have access to our tools, via whatever devices and Internet connections are available. As my colleague David Wadhwani has described in the past, Adobe’s role is to help people tell their stories. And, of course, the Cloud and the lower price points of the subscription business model gives Adobe a mechanism to reach customers in the developing world that we couldn’t before with a traditional sales model and the drain of software piracy.

Second, as I took in lectures and presentations, I was struck by the importance of communications skills. One can have the most jaw-dropping research findings, but, unless the ideas are conveyed with impact and creativity, they fall on deaf ears. Really, the whole Davos experience, in which government officials are mixed with artists, explorers, academics, and musicians, is a recognition of the power of creativity. I had a number of conversations with government officials about STEAM – how the addition of the Arts to STEM (a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math curriculum) can pay huge dividends. Research shows that adding that “A” can help cultivate better problem solving skills, more academic engagement, and, of course, better communication.

Finally, governments around the world are increasingly aware of the need to engage citizens online. Many government officials realize the unprecedented opportunity at their disposal in assisting their constituents electronically. Whether it is the astounding technological advances in being able to serve up real-time, relevant content, or engaging content that can now be rendered to large majorities of citizens on mobile devices, government officials are now seeing the tremendous value of electronic engagement with citizens. Citizens are also consumers, and they carry into their interactions with governments expectations fueled by their interactions with best-of-breed commercial apps and Websites. As these citizen expectations increase, the new demands on governments to effectively engage their audiences is extraordinary.  To citizens accustomed to apps and online services that iterate continuously, a government Web portal with the capabilities of even two years ago misses the mark.  Thankfully, there is no lack of leadership and ideas when it comes to reaching more citizens with more information in ways that have never been available before.

We all know the positive impact that can happen when diverse groups work to solve problems. This year’s Davos had no shortage of problems to solve, but I was encouraged by the number of creative ideas being discussed and the appetite to work in earnest to solve them.

Update: Alignment of Adobe-Approved Trust List (AATL) and EU Trust List (EUTL)

Posted by John Jolliffe, Head of European Government Affairs, and Steve Gottwals, Senior Engineering Manager for Information Security in Standards at Adobe

As mentioned in our previous post, Alignment of Adobe-Approved Trust List (AATL) and EU Trust List (EUTL) we have been busy working on the integration of the EU Trust List into Adobe Acrobat and Reader software. Our January 14, 2014 release of Adobe Reader and Acrobat 11.0.06 takes another significant step towards that ultimate goal. In this version of the product, you will notice new UI to manage the EUTL download. For instance, we’ve added new controls in the Trust Manager Preferences as shown below.

EUTL pic

While we continue with our beta testing phase of this process, the general user will not be able to download an EUTL. But, as soon as beta is complete, we’ll be moving the EUTL into production, where everyone will have access.

“Adobe &” Program Brings Digital Design Skills Training and Technology to Students in Australia

Posted by Erica Fensom, Head of Government Affairs – Asia Pacific

I am a new member of the government relations team at Adobe. Having just finished my fifth week with the company and meeting with colleagues in four offices across three countries, I’ve had an intense first immersion in Adobe culture. I am impressed with how much creativity, openness and genuine sincerity there is across this company.

Every day, Adobe strives to change the world through digital experiences and I’ve seen this first-hand. During my first week in the Sydney office, I had the opportunity to attend an Adobe & workshop with a select group of sixteen students from Merrylands High School.  Led by experienced graphic designer and Adobe Digital Media Solutions Consultant Renee Lance, the training provided the Year 9 students with an introductory course to develop technical design skills using PhotoShop and Illustrator.

Within a few hours, I witnessed a group of young students transform photos of koalas, images of their family, and self-portraits into vibrant works of abstract art using variety of advanced tools professional designers use to manipulate images and design illustrations. These students (and I include myself in this group) were learning how to stretch their creativity and develop skills in leading-edge creative design technologies.

As Australia seeks to increase the number of students who are trained in career-ready ICT skills, the Adobe & program seeks to empower young people with the tools they need to develop skills for the digital economy, including web design and creating digital experiences for audiences online. As part of the day, students were given the opportunity to sit an exam to become an Adobe Certified Expert, an industry certification that can be used on students’ resumes as they prepare for future careers.

I spoke with my colleagues who run the education programs in Australia to learn more about why Adobe is doing these workshops. I learned that Adobe believes arts and creativity is an important part of education. Adobe conducted a study called Creativity and Education, Why it Matters, which interviewed over one thousand educators. An overwhelming majority of teachers believe that creativity can be applied to every domain of knowledge and every school subject. They do not see creativity as being relevant only to intrinsically creative subjects such as the arts, music and drama, but they see creativity as of paramount importance for the development of creative thinking and learning across all subjects.

Across the state of New South Wales, Adobe has partnered with the government to provide industry-leading digital media products to more than 250,000 students, representing over two thirds of students across NSW. Our focus in education is to unleash the creativity of all students, educators and schools. Teachers who have participated in the Adobe education programs in Australia have found the skills experience workshops to be valuable for their students. You can listen to educator Ross Johnson discuss his experience here.

I’m enjoying being a part of the Adobe team in Asia-Pacific and I look forward to taking part in more of these educational workshops for students. With Adobe, I’m proud to support government policies that enable ICT skills growth and development that will be important for Australia’s future in the digital economy. As a mom with a daughter about to enter kindergarten in the Sydney suburbs, I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for her in Australia.

To learn more about Adobe’s vision for creativity in education, please click here for information about tools and programs available in Australia. 

Students participate at the Adobe & program in Sydney

Students participate in the Adobe & program in Sydney

Snowball Effect: Patent Discussions Gain Momentum in the Senate

Posted by Dana Rao, Vice President of Intellectual Property and Litigation

I was honored to testify in the Senate Judiciary Committee today in support of Senators Leahy and Lee’s “Patent Transparency and Improvements Act,” as well as legislation from Senators Hatch, Cornyn, and Grassley.  Senator Leahy kicked off today’s hearing by mentioning the snowfall in Vermont. Luckily, the snow didn’t reach DC, and my second opportunity to testify in front of Congress wasn’t disrupted by the snow like my last testimony.

Listening to the testimony of fellow witnesses on the panel and the Senators on the Judiciary Committee, I was struck by four things:

  • The hearing was extremely well attended, with 15 Senators present, underscoring the seriousness of the problem.
  • There was unanimous support from witnesses for halting the behavior of patent trolls that unjustly attack real innovators in the United States. Like many of Adobe’s customers, patent trolls are targeting end users and small businesses with meritless law suits in search of a quick settlement and payout. As this problem grows exponentially, Congress must act quickly to stop this behavior.
  • There was wide agreement, such as from Philip Johnson, the Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of Johnson & Johnson and representative for the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, that fee shifting is the most appropriate way to balance the needs of the legitimate patent holders and disrupt the troll model, and that there is a need to reach the real party in interest to make fee shifting effective.
  • Finally, I was gratified that all witnesses spoke out in favor of balanced solutions to the troll problem.  Adobe has been both a plaintiff and defendant in patent litigation, and our interest is in promoting a targeted fix that addresses a serious but ultimately narrow imbalance in one particular flavor of civil litigation around patents.

I recognize that there are varying viewpoints about how best to remedy the nearly $29 Billion cost patent trolls inflict on our innovation economy.  However, as I’ve written in prior posts, the legislation crafted by Senators Leahy and Lee is great start on patent reform.  However, to provide a comprehensive solution, Leahy-Lee needs to be coupled with other measures, particularly Senator Cornyn and Grassley’s legislation, which addresses heightened pleading and discovery reform, and Senator Hatch’s legislation, which provides discretionary bonding.

I look forward to the next step in moving this effort forward. I also look forward to a relaxing winter break. Happy Holidays everyone!

Dana Rao, Adobe's Vice President for Intellectual Property and Litigation, providing testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this morning.

Providing testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this morning.

A Victory in the House!

Posted by Dana Rao, Vice President of Intellectual Property and Litigation

Things can get done! The House acted in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion to pass the Innovation Act this morning, 325-91!  Members of Congress and their staffs spent months developing language to address a problem that is costing our economy billions of dollars. I am impressed and delighted with the ready recognition and sophisticated understanding of this problem by Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, and all of us affected by this problem (and that is pretty much all of us) appreciate their energy and efforts in developing a set of comprehensive solutions to reform patent litigation abuses. Unfortunately, the patent trolls have made it too easy to demonstrate the real consequences of this abusive behavior. But, it has taken real work to come up with a fair and balanced solution that addresses the problem and also ensures that the patent system works to protect innovators small and large. In fact, the Innovation Act streamlines the litigation process to minimize the cost of litigation for both parties, which benefits the small patent holder plaintiff as well as the patent defendant. As I’ve said in previous blog posts, Adobe is grateful for Congressman Goodlatte’s leadership role in developing this legislation, and for the support of other key co-sponsors including Representatives Lofgren, Coble, DeFazio, Smith, Eshoo, Chaffetz, Bachus, Marino, Farenthold, and Holding.

With the White House signaling its support of the Innovation Act in a Statement of Administration Policy released earlier this week, the conversation turns to the Senate with a hearing scheduled for December 17th. I hope that the energizing debate in the House today drives a sense of urgency in the Senate to act in early 2014 to pass a bill of similar breadth and effectiveness as HR 3309. It is critical that fee shifting, along with a method of ensuring those fees are paid, are elements present in any patent reform legislation. As I have noted before, unless the patent trolls face some risk for filing meritless lawsuits, these suits will continue. And money that should have been spent on investing in hiring, developing new technologies, and moving America’s economy forward will instead be spent on lawyers and patent trolls. Let’s get an effective patent reform bill passed in the Senate, so we can go back to innovating and driving America’s economy forward.

Thank you again to everyone who has focused attention on fixing the patent system and upholding the status of the United States as one of the best places in the world to innovate.

One Giant Step Forward (on Patent Reform)

Posted by Dana Rao, Vice President of Intellectual Property and Litigation

Thanks to UStream, I and probably tens of other patent aficionados just finished watching an eight-hour “markup” in the House Judiciary Committee. (A markup is a working meeting of a Congressional Committee at which bills and amendments are offered and voted upon.)

For those of you who have never witnessed a markup, it’s a reaffirmation that our democracy does work. Members of Congress debate, deals are struck, and roll calls are taken (listening to the voice roll calls is amazingly hypnotic, by the way, I highly encourage giving it a try if you need a moment of clarity–“Ms. Chu? Ms. Chu votes ‘Aye’). And since I was invested in the outcome, even the introduction of mysterious “second degree amendments to amendments” was filled with drama.

I have been privileged to meet with members of Congress and their staffs to make the case for patent litigation reform, as I have mentioned in prior posts. What happened tonight was exceptional and inspirational. The House Judiciary Committee reported out the Innovation Act on a vote of 33-5 in a truly bipartisan fashion with 12 Democrats joining 21 Republicans.

Everyone recognized that patent trolls are a scourge on businesses small and large. The real debate was on what to do about it. In the end, Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), with strong support from Adobe’s hometown Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), offered an amendment that made this remarkable bipartisan vote possible. The Jeffries amendment clarified under what circumstances judges should not shift attorney’s fees to the prevailing party, making clear that reasonable patent infringement lawsuits will not be impacted and that plaintiffs in economic hardship will be protected.

In a previous life, I was actually a Schedule C employee in the Clinton Justice Department. I believe in access to justice for all, and reject the universal application of “loser pays” with regard to attorney’s fees — i.e., the English system. I was heartened to see that many on both sides of the aisle tonight recognized that patent litigation is a very narrow and special case where balanced fee shifting is appropriate.  Fee shifting has been in the patent act for decades (in Section 285) and updating it to address the troll phenomena is just good legislative sense.

Many thanks to Chairman Goodlatte and the entire House Judiciary Committee for the invigorating debate today, and to the 33 members of the Committee who voted to report the Innovation Act to the House floor for an eventual vote. I look forward to more improvements in the Act as this process continues.

The Senate Steps Up (on Patent Reform)

Posted by Dana Rao, Vice President of Intellectual Property and Litigation

I wrote a couple weeks ago about the patent troll problem, and how we were seeing bipartisan action in the House of Representatives centered on the Innovation Act, Chairman Goodlatte’s comprehensive bill on patent reform.  I’m happy to report that we are seeing great momentum in the House, with a markup/committee vote taking place on the Act later today in the Judiciary Committee.  After the Judiciary markup, next stop for the Act is a vote of the full House, later this year or early 2014. For those Schoolhouse Rock fans out there, you know this is the first important step in a long process to have this bill become a law.

To that end, I’m pleased to report that the Senate has been just as active, and the work of a number of offices is now bearing fruit as introduced legislation.  Adobe supports the bills introduced by Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Lee (R-UT), as well as separate bills from Sens. Hatch (R-UT) and Cornyn (R-TX).

Each of these bills tackles different aspects of the troll problem.  The Leahy bill provides some important safeguards to ensure software developers like Adobe are able to limit the effects of abusive patent litigation filed against our customers.  Both the Hatch and Cornyn bills provide for fee shifting.  Allowing the prevailing party to collect fees will deter meritless patent lawsuits, as the plaintiffs will face a financial consequence if they lose.  The Hatch bill adds a critical element to the fee-shifting proposal by providing a discretionary bond that will ensure those shifted fees will actually get paid by someone.  The Hatch legislation also safeguards the rights of individual inventors and entrepreneurs by giving the court the option to impose the bond, and providing guidance to the court that certain entities (non-trolls, individual inventors, universities) should not be required to post bonds.

Taken together, these Senate bills amount to a comprehensive plan to address the troll problem.  They include critical measures on fee shifting, demand letters, customer stay, real party in interest, and many other positive elements.

We are thankful to Chairman Leahy and his staff for his commitment to solving the patent litigation abuse problem, and for moving legislation forward.  We are especially grateful to two hometown-hero Senators who have more than a thousand Adobe employees in their state—Senators Hatch and Lee.  Adobe looks forward to working with these three Senators, along with Senators Cornyn and Schumer, as the process moves forward.

Adobe supports the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Posted by Andrew Kirkpatrick, Group Product Manager for Accessibility in Adobe Accessibility

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted in 2006, and has since been signed by 137 countries. The CRPD affirms the equality of all people, without exceptions due to their abilities. This month, Adobe sent a letter of support for the ratification of the Convention to Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bob Corker (R-TN), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Senate is responsible for approving treaties put forward for ratification by the president. The CRPD was signed by the United States in 2009. Unfortunately, at the time the CRPD was first presented to the Senate, it was not approved, falling just a few votes short of the required two-thirds vote.

Adobe is adding its voice to the chorus of organizations and advocates that believe the CRPD is an important step toward ensuring people with disabilities have equal access to government services, employment opportunities, and technological advances. One of the expectations of the CRPD is that ratifying countries will adopt standards for information technology accessibility. In order to facilitate the goal of equal access, it is critical that the adopted standards be harmonized to ensure that software from companies such as Adobe, developers creating content, and assistive technology vendors can focus on a single global standard for accessibility rather than needing to address unique requirements in each country.

The United States, through legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, has already affirmed that disability must not be a barrier to entering a building, finding and keeping a job, interacting with government officials and services, shopping, dining out, or moving from place to place. Other U.S. laws guarantee equal access to education, voting, buying a home, catching a flight, and even watch TV shows on the Internet. While there is still work to be done, the foresight of bipartisan U.S. policymakers over the decades in creating a legislative framework that moves this country toward equal access for all people is now being emulated worldwide. Ratifying the CRPD will further show the world that these are the values we should all share.

Bipartisan Agreement Exists! And It’s in Patent Reform

Posted by Dana Rao, Vice President of Intellectual Property and Litigation

Most days, I love my job. I am chief IP counsel at one of the most innovative companies on the planet—Adobe. I work with some of smartest people in the world who develop industry-leading technologies for creatives and marketing pros. I also have the privilege of working with leading universities and technology companies to license their IP to help make our products the world-class experiences people expect from Adobe. All of this innovation is protected by intellectual property law, including over three thousand patents and applications, which is what enables Adobe to employ thousands, serve our customers and provide value to our shareholders.

But there is one aspect of my job that is not so fabulous—dealing with patent trolls. My boss, Mike Dillon, has blogged about this scourge (with his usual flair). I was privileged to testify about it before Congress earlier this year, to urge our lawmakers to act, and act now. As a lawyer, and as someone who believes in sticking up for the little guy, I truly believe in the importance of having access to courts to help redress rights. In fact, I am married to a  lawyer who has devoted her entire career to helping underprivileged people gain access to the courts, and it is an issue we are both passionate about. But abusive patent litigation is just a cynical practice designed to extort money out of its victims by taking advantage of the high cost of defending patent lawsuits. When put to the test, these patent trolls lose. One study shows that patent trolls’ lawsuits are defeated in court 92% of the time, compared to 60% for other plaintiffs. But in today’s system, they face no consequences for their actions.

That’s why I am excited that help is on the way, thanks to the Innovation Act. The bill was written by Chairman Bob Goodlatte of the House Judiciary Committee, along with a bipartisan group of cosponsors including Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Howard Coble, Peter DeFazio, Lamar Smith, Anna Eshoo, Jason Chaffetz, Spencer Bachus, Tom Marnio, Blake Farenthold, and George Holding. Many Adobe employees live in the districts of Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo, and Jason Chaffetz, and we are particularly grateful for their support of a hometown company.

Adobe supports passage of the Innovation Act. We believe it protects the integrity of the patent system while reining in abusive litigation with the right solutions, especially with its focus on fee shifting.  We need to restore balance to this broken system, and the Innovation Act does just that.

Of course, there is more work to do to improve the bill, and we’ll be working with our friends in industry and Congress to help make those improvements going forward. Adobe’s sincere thanks go to Chairman Goodlatte for his leadership and to all the cosponsors and their staffs for understanding the insidious nature of the troll phenomenon and working to fix the problem.

To learn more about the patent troll problem and the need for reform, both the Business Software Alliance and Coalition for Patent Fairness have further information. You can learn how to contact your representatives in Congress here.

Congressman McDermott Visits Adobe Seattle

Posted by Bridget Perry, Vice President and Seattle Site Leader

On November 7, Adobe was privileged to host Congressman Jim McDermott for a constituent visit to our site in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood.  Adobe’s Seattle site is in Representative McDermott’s Congressional district.

Adobe believes that government works best when lines of communication are open in both directions.  Over the years, we have hosted other U.S. and foreign government officials for at our sites worldwide, including San Jose, Lehi, Seattle, and San Francisco.  These visits are non-partisan and non-political, and give both sides the chance to talk technology, public policy, and ways our employees can contribute to their communities more effectively.

Adobe’s Seattle roots go back to 1984, when Aldus Corporation was founded here.  Aldus later merged with Adobe, and we moved to Fremont in 1998 to a site at the intersection of Lake Union and the Lake Washington Ship Canal.  We employ approximately 450 in Seattle, mostly in high-end engineering functions working on digital media products such as Digital Publishing Suite (DPS), AfterEffects, and InDesign.

Congressman McDermott participated in a technology demonstration and discussion with our site leadership council, and then held a lively Q&A with a group of our Seattle employees.  Thanks to the Congressman for a terrific visit!  It was a treat for all of us at Adobe Seattle.

Rep. McDermott answers employee questions during his visit to Adobe Seattle.

Rep. McDermott answers employee questions during his visit to Adobe Seattle.