Adobe filed the suit in August 2000, alleging that the user interface of Macromedia's Flash Web animation tool infringed on Adobe's patent for "tabbed palettes," a feature that allows users of design software to rearrange the work space on the PC screen.
A jury in the U.S. District Court of Delaware agreed with Adobe and awarded the company $2.8 million in damages. Adobe said in a statement that it also expects a judicial injunction preventing Macromedia from selling the infringing software.
A trial is scheduled to begin in the same court Monday regarding Macromedia's first countersuit, charging that Adobe's Photoshop image-editing software and its GoLive Web design software infringe on two patents that Macromedia holds for editing tools. A second Macromedia countersuit, filed last year in U.S. District Court for Northern California, is not yet scheduled for trial.
"While we would have preferred to settle this issue out of court, we are satisfied that the validity of this key innovation has been upheld," said Bryan Lamkin, senior vice president of Adobe's graphics business unit.
Macromedia did not say if it would appeal the decision.
"It is unfortunate, and we believe wrong, that Adobe has chosen this field to compete," CEO Rob Burgess said in a statement. "Ultimately, it is our customers, and particularly our mutual customers, that will be harmed."