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Microsoft Preparing for Adobe Lawsuit

Microsoft Preparing for Adobe Lawsuit

by , 3:30 PM EDT, June 2nd, 2006

Negotiations between Microsoft and Adobe over the use of PDF technology in the Office Suite have broken down, prompting Microsoft to prepare for a possible antitrust lawsuit from Adobe. According to The Wall Street Journal, the two companies have been involved in discussions for the past four months, but now that they are at an impasse, Adobe is likely to file an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft in Europe.

The root of the problem is that Adobe wanted Microsoft to remove the ability to output documents in the PDF format from upcoming versions of the Office suite, which includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and then charge a fee to users that want to add the functionality back in. Microsoft agreed to offer the PDF module separately, but refused to offer it for a fee.

Microsoft's general counsel, Brad Smith, commented "Adobe has threatened antitrust action unless Microsoft agrees to raise its prices, in particular for the software that would allow Microsoft Office users to save a document in the Adobe PDF format."

The ability to save a file in Adobe's PDF format is a fairly common feature, especially in Mac OS X where it is an option in nearly every application. The technical specifications for the PDF file format are available for free from Adobe, too.

Adobe isn't clarifying exactly why it wants Microsoft to charge extra for the ability to save documents in the Acrobat compatible format. A possible reason is that by not charging for the ability to output PDF from the Office suite applications, Microsoft will marginalize Acrobat, Adobe's PDF creation and editing application package.

The company CEO, Bruce Chizen, has publicly commented that he fears Microsoft may abuse its monopoly status in the computer software market.

Holly Campbell, an Adobe spokesperson, stated "We've discussed our concerns openly, both with Microsoft as well as with a number of regulatory agencies around the world," but did not elaborate any further.

Adobe isn't stating whether or not it plans to follow through on its antitrust lawsuit threats.

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