PDA

View Full Version : Questions about Adobe, GIMP, and other such software




walkingmac
Mar 23, 2006, 03:44 PM
Had a question about patents (bit of a newb). How does GIMP (or other programs for that matter, open source or otherwise) get around patent issues from Adobe?



robbieduncan
Mar 23, 2006, 04:04 PM
That's pretty vague. What Patent issue?

walkingmac
Mar 23, 2006, 04:11 PM
Well, I haven't looked at Adobe's patents too closely, but just like their lawsuit with macromedia about tabbed palettes, is there something about GIMP that exempts them? Does this not apply to other apps as well? How can one find what patents and IP's they own?

theBB
Mar 23, 2006, 04:12 PM
I am not very familiar with the specifics, but here is what little I know: A lot of image processing algorithms are developed in the academic world, so you may not have to worry about patents if you just replicate these methods. If these methods are older than 20 years, then there is no patent issue anyways. (You'd be surprised at the number of times some smart scientist coming up with a very clever solution, even though it was not practical to implement at that time.) Most of these algorithms can easily be expressed as mathematical equations and math is not patentable, so maybe a lot of these image processing algorithms are not patented to begin with.

robbieduncan
Mar 23, 2006, 04:19 PM
Well, I haven't looked at Adobe's patents too closely, but just like their lawsuit with macromedia about tabbed palettes, is there something about GIMP that exempts them? Does this not apply to other apps as well? How can one find what patents and IP's they own?

I did a bit of Googling and it appears that they went after Macromedia for the tabbed palettes, but they don't seem to have gone after anyone else. The patent if fairly specific. Basically if you have a "static" set of tab's you'll be OK. The Patent is about being able to consolidate multiple palette window into one window with tabs and separate them back out again. Last time I checked The Gimp could not do this. I've never seen an Apple app do it either. The Patent in question (http://swpat.ffii.org/patents/samples/ep689133/ep0689133.pdf) Pages 10/11 show the idea being patented.

Patents are location specific (European, American etc). Each area tends to have it's own Patent Office and you can search their Patent databases (you may well have to pay for this though).

walkingmac
Mar 23, 2006, 04:47 PM
ok... so why then is there so few (next to none really) contenders for Adobe? How was their acquisition of Macromedia legal?

theBB
Mar 23, 2006, 08:33 PM
ok... so why then is there so few (next to none really) contenders for Adobe?
I am curious about that as well, but think about it from a customer's point of view. There is already a product that you are satisfied with; it is already an industry standard, so there is a lot of third party support (plug-ins, consultants, books etc.); the product keeps adding features over time; then you don't really have a compelling reason to try another product, other than price. That is not a very attractive market for a competitor to try to enter. That's why the only competitors to Photoshop that I know about are the open source alternatives (GIMP, Cinepaint or Seashore if you want a native Aqua port) where profit is not the aim to begin with.

How was their acquisition of Macromedia legal?
They may have argued that their product features and markets do not overlap, hence the acquisition does not reduce competition and hurt consumers. I don't know if such a statement would be correct though...