Adobe Considering Lawsuit Over iPhone Lockout

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Adobe is apparently considering taking Apple to court over the company’s decision to prohibit cross-compiled apps on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The word from sources that are tight with Adobe claim the company could take legal action within the next few weeks, according to ITworld.

Adobe’s alleged plan to sue Apple stems from changes to the iPhone OS software developer license that says apps must be written in the Objective-C, C or C++ programming languages, and that using compatibility layers to convert code from other languages to run on the iPhone is prohibited. That wording blocks the use of Adobe’s Flash CS5 to iPhone compiler, as well as other products such as MonoTouch.

While Adobe’s intentions are murky, there’s a vocal group that’s more than happy to share its opinion on Apple’s policy. Lee Brimelow, Flash evangelist for Adobe, said on his blog that Apple wants “tyrannical control over developers,” and is using developers “as pawns in their crusade against Adobe.” A Facebook fan page called “I’m with Adobe” sprang up shortly after Apple’s updated SDK licensing terms were released, too.

The official stance from Adobe is that the company looking into Apple’s licensing language, but the company hasn’t confirmed that it is looking into legal action.

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20 Comments Leave Your Own

Khaled

Can I sue Adobe for pushing malware with Flash for Firefox (on Windows)?

I’m not joking. First they try to install a firefox addon that I don’t need (a downloader) then installs a downloader app that I “surprise” don’t need.

marty

pointless

apple can still refuse any app for any reason at the appstore

even if adobe gets to sell their latest flashturd, it will be a very risky tool tp use

aardman

Anybody have any idea what legal theory such a suit would invoke?  Apple is not singling out Adobe, so it’s non-discriminatory.  Apple has no monopoly in the smartphone or tablet space, so you can’t sue for restraint of trade.  Apple seems to have hurt Adobe’s feelings, so there’s your legal theory—mental torture, emotional distress, or something of that sort.

Tiger

Let them try. How many customers are angry at Adobe for waiting until their two year customer maintenance agreements run out (by one month!) to then release their big upgrade and charge another 50%? They are really starting to p—- me off.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Come on people, think creatively. This is war, 21st century style. This is not the British lined up on one side of the field and the French lined up on the other, facing each other and marching toward the center of the field in a predictable, ordered fashion.

It will be a patent infringement lawsuit, and they’ll head straight to the ITC as well. They’ll also sue over misrepresentations of product performance made by Apple spokesholes. And I bet they throw in something relating to the initial iPad videos that represented Flash playing on the device.

@Tiger… Adobe has been on fairly predictable 18-24 month release schedules for the better part of a decade. Do you really think they time their releases to your maintenance agreement? Seriously?

AceNet-Alan

While Apple does it’s best to call itself the angel of technology, always looking out for the best interest of their product and it’s users, the fact of the matter is that Apple is surpassing MS as the archetypal “use ‘em and leave ‘em” tech company that, up until the past 5 years, has been gaining the despise of companies for it’s bed-hopping.

I was, at first, curious as to how this fight will affect future licensing agreements with Apple, such as in using Preview with adobe pdf documents. However, I found out that in 2008 pdf documents became an open format. With every opportunity that Apple has in getting what it wants with the least restriction, it will take what it needs for it’s own satisfaction, dump the partnership and move on. The fissure between Adobe and Apple has been building, and has finally become the break in the relationship that may mean the end of any future collaborations.

Nemo

I would think that Adobe would allege that the new Section 3.3.1 is an agreement in restraint of trade and/or an illegal attempt to monopolize.  However, such a suit would face a number of problems:  (1) All cross-compilers, as is true of any interpretive development tool, does diminish performance, and Adobe’s software may be particular bad in how it affects performance; (2) Dan Dilger states that cross-compiler in general and Adobe’s in particular will prevent iPhone OS 4.0 from multitasking properly; if true, this is a slam dunk defense for Apple to any antitrust complaint; (3) Apple can argue that by promoting differentiation in the technical features and capabilities of the iPhone OS and other mobile operating systems and by making it more likely that developers will use the iPhone OS’s innovations, Section 3.3.1 actual increases competition and consumer choice in the markets for mobile devices; (4) Apple’s desire to require to increase the likelihood that apps for the iPhone OS will competently, if not fully, exploit its unique features is a reasonable business objective that is not per se anticompetitive; (5) Apple’s desire not to be constrained in its innovation of the iPhone OS by having to support apps coded by cross compilers is reasonable, not pre se anticompetitive, and is, see 3, supra, promotes competition among mobile devices; (6) with only about 14% of the smartphone market and with the emergence of powerful competitors, nearly all of which have declared their support for Flash, Apple does not have sufficient market power in any relevant market (not mobile devices, not development tools, not mobile OSs) to support a restraint of trade or attempt to monopolize claims, as competition in the relevant markets is unimpaired and is ferociously vigorous and intense, and even Adobe has publicly stated that it expects customer choice in the market to force Apple to support Flash; and (7) by requiring the use of alternatives tools (HTML5, CSS, Javascript, etc.) to Flash to produce videos and interactive content, Section 3.3.1 promotes competition in the market for development tools for such content by offering the only viable competitive alternative to Adobe Flash’s entrenched monopoly for video and interactive content, which by Adobe’s own admission is more than 70% of all such content on the Internet. 

So Adobe can sue, but my provisional view, based on the few facts that are publicly available, is that Apple would have good prospects for successfully defending an antitrust lawsuit against Section 3.3.1 and could argue as a defense or, perhaps, even a counterclaim that Adobe’s insistence that Apple permit its cross-compiler is Adobe’s attempt to maintain its monopoly of Flash-based video content by commoditizing the one platform, the iPhone OS, that is capable of launching a competitor, HTML5, to Flash.

Nemo

Reading my dear friend’s, Bosco’s, comment, supra, I forgot to mention the, as yet unknown, possibility that Apple will countersue for infringement of either its copyrights or patent in the iPhone OS.  It is unlikely that Apple has infringed on any of Adobe’s IP, unless it has done so in its development tools, which is possible but unlikely.  It is more likely that Adobe requires a license from Apple to use some of Apple’s IP related to iPhone OS 4.0 in order to make its development tools for iPhone OS 4.0.  However, based on the information that is publicly available, I don’t see how anyone can say that either party would have a claim based on infringement of either copyright, patent, and/or marks. 

We shall have to be patient regarding infringement.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

(1) All cross-compilers, as is true of any interpretive development tool, does diminish performance, and Adobe?s software may be particular bad in how it affects performance;

Hey Nemo, if you get anywhere near this case or one like it, give me a call and I’ll BS detect this kind of stuff for you for free so you’re not embarrassed by the opposing counsel’s expert. Not to be rude, but that is just plain ignorant.

Nemo

With all due respect Bosco, I think that I would rather call on my brother Gilliland for recommendations on expert witnesses, as his experts served him very well in Apple v. Psystar. 

Factors 1 and 2 in my first post are of particular interest.  As I said, if Apple persuades a judge or jury that 2 is true, Adobe loses.  With regard to factor 1, if apps coded with Adobe’s cross compiler creates significant problems with any important aspect of performance on Apple’s mobile devices, Adobe loses. 

Factors 3, 4, and 5, if supported by the evidence would make Section 3.3.1 actually pro-competitive in the markets that are likely to be at issue.  And factor 5 will also be a problem because Apple, as do other makers of OSs, has a right to establish regulations and guidelines so that current apps will work on future version of its iPhone OS. 

Which brings us to factor 6, a court will be reluctant to disturb Apple’s attempt to maintain and improve performance, ensure a good experience for users, and enhance the compatibility of current apps with further iterations of the iPhone OS, where, as is the case today, the iPhone OS does not have market power, that is, the iPhone OS’s current market share isn’t sufficient for Section 3.3.1 to have any affect on competition in any relevant market.

And factor 7 is one that I think can resonate with a judge.  What Adobe would really be trying to do with an antitrust lawsuit is maintain its monopoly in video content on the Internet by suppressing competition in the market for mobile devices by making all of their apps alike, which would commoditize all mobile devices and, thus, make it impossible for the iPhone OS 4.0 to be a vehicle for the competing and open-sourced or licensed to all third parties on equal terms video standards of HTML5, CSS, and Javascript.  Misusing the antitrust law to actual suppress, rather than protect, competition is an anathema to federal courts.

If it decides to sue, Adobe has its work cut out for it.  As for your offered expertise my Dear Bosco, since it so devastates the foregoing defenses, I am sure that Adobe will find it useful, if not indispensable.

ctopher

wait, what does Adobe have?

Does their tool create an executable or does it create C code. Seems to me if it creates C (objective-C or C++) and the developer then has to use X-Code to create the executable, then their app would be legal. It would be in C form.

If on the other hand Adobe’s tool is C code that executes the action script binary, then we have an interpreter and that would violate Apple’s SDK license.

So why not have a Flash to X-Code project converter in CS5?

OK, I know very little about what Adobe is doing or how iPhone apps get compiled, but if Apple’s tools do the building, how are they gonna know?

Tiger

Bosco, you got my point in fact. It is ludicrous for me to sue based on that they conspired to wait just long enough to upgrade at 25 months to avoid service contracts (which by the way contracts that we WERE required to purchase from them without exception).

Ludicrous also is the whining about “you’re blocking out our coding technique.”

Well guess what, that is allowed. Gaming systems have very specific coding requirements as has been pointed out repeatedly. So do GPS systems. I just find Adobe’s whole victim card more than pathetic. Not to mention the track record with cross platform compatibility and timely product introduction. It’s been well documented. Adobe has whizzed on Apple several times over the better part of the last two decades. Is this retaliatory? Possibly. It’s also done all the time.

But thanks for playing along.

John Dingler, artist

The Microsoft vs. Apple war primarily took place in the OS; The Google vs. Apple war is taking place in the iPhone; And the Bosco vs. Nemo war promises to escalate in the MacObserver. *S*

Does anyone actually fall for the pretense that “My dear Bosco” really means “dear?” I liken that sort of diplomatic language to that used between the Soviets and the US or two Fundamentalists disagreeing on the meaning of a Biblical passage such as the one recommending to “go into the closet and pray.” Stripping away niceties could likely reveal the raw emotion of hurt feelings, resentment, rage, chagrin, and perhaps even unrequited respect and high regard for the other.

I am not sure that frequent commentors like Nemo and Bosco who offer posts that are even longer than the article itself add value to the thesis of the native article. They feel like chest-beaters, or squatters or glommers. Yet I recognize that the two commentators also add a measure of emotion, which has value, to the generally objective observations of the native, MacObserver authors.

In my opinion, such chatters may have gotten much too big at the macobserver.com, perhaps each needing to either be offered their own columns here or start a blog of their own astute observations. The latter might be titled, “MacReobserverNemo,” and “MacReobserverBosco,” with the troika sharing eachother’s links.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Strangely, Flash player is available for Wii, Xbox, and PS3. It is a very popular platform for free and interesting games on those consoles. It does seem that Apple is indeed far more controlling than the gaming console vendors. Thank you for playing!

And cross-platform compatibility?!? Oh seriously. On one hand, Adobe gets panned for taking a conservative approach to Apple’s APIs. On the other hand, Adobe gets panned for not achieving feature parity until 2008/2009. What do you think constitutes best practices to achieve real feature parity? Here’s a hint. It’s coding (as much as possible) to a framework that sits above differing platform-specific frameworks. It’s exactly what Apple says it does not want on iPhone because of their past experiences with developers doing that (presumably on the Mac).

And where did Adobe’s responsibility to develop for the Mac come from anyway? The platform was volatile from 1999 - 2003. Nobody had any idea if OS X would take off or customers would move up rather than move out. Wintel machines were becoming more than adequate for design at a much lower price. It’s just revisionist for Apple to hold a grudge over that. Mutual customers, perhaps, but AppleScript lock-in was not nearly the issue for Adobe products as for Quark. I don’t get it. I want to get it, too. It makes no sense to me why anyone would side with Apple on this. The technical explanations are lies. The only sensible (but repulsive) comment I’ve seen on this is one from a Unity developer in a thread here in last hour about wanting protection from competition from Flash developers, who can apparently develop stuff people want far cheaper than he can. Duh.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Hey John… It’s really easy. Click the sprocket to the right of the date in this comment’s header. Click “Block”. You’re done.

geoduck

I am not sure that frequent commentors like Nemo and Bosco who offer posts that are even longer than the article itself add value to the thesis of the native article.

It’s my understanding that Nemo is an attorney and so his legal opinions carry a good bit of weight (with me anyway).

I blocked Bosco some months ago.

As to the suit: I firmly believe that because Apple is not specifically singling out Adobe that any suit by Adobe would be thrown out immediately. Even if it did I believe that Apple would prevail. Personally I don’t think Adobe is dumb enough to even start that kind of a pissing contest.

daemon

It?s my understanding that Nemo is an attorney and so his legal opinions carry a good bit of weight (with me anyway).

I blocked Nemo after he wrote three thousand words to convey the meaning of the phrase “I have no opinion,” and then claimed he wanted to send me a bill for his legal opinion.

He’s worthless.

I blocked Bosco some months ago.

LoLs! You keep responding to him tho!

Tiger

Geez, tempers flare way too easily. How about a moment of comic relief?

If I open Skype on my Mac, it tells me Windows is installed and has a virus.

Now, can it really be that good to know that, yes, I do have Windows installed under Parallels, but it hasn’t been launched in over 10 days. And I only launched Skype for the first time two days ago in MONTHS.

Can it really detect a virus in a closed Windows container under Parallels?

Or is it detecting Windows as being the virus!!!!!!  grin

geoduck

LoLs! You keep responding to him tho!

Um… no
I haven’t replied to a post by Bosco since I blocked him.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Today we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives.

We have created for the first time in all history a garden of pure ideology, where each worker may bloom, secure from the pests of any contradictory true thoughts.

Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth.

We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause.

Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion.

We shall prevail!

Makes me smile every time I see it.

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