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Adobe reveals patent suit

A small software maker claims Acrobat uses its technology.

Software maker Adobe Systems revealed in a regulatory filing Thursday that it is being sued for alleged patent violations in its Acrobat publishing software.

According to the quarterly report Adobe filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company was sued June 2 in U.S. District Court for Colorado by Information Technology Innovation. The suit alleges that Adobe's Acrobat products infringe on the company's patent, originally assigned to Colorado firm MarketScape, for a "method of extracting network information."

U.S. Patent 5,892,908, granted in 1999, covers a method of retrieving files over a network by using hyperlinks.

Adobe has not yet been served with the suit, according to the filing, which stated the company believes the action has no merit. Adobe representatives declined to comment on the suit, which seeks unspecified damages. Lawyers representing Information Technology Innovation did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

, which produces documents based on Adobe's PDF (Portable Document Format), has become the foundation of Adobe's new business strategy for attracting enterprise customers. The company is expanding PDF, already widely used for electronic exchange of documents, into a broad foundation for formatting and presenting corporate data.

Thursday's filing also includes new details on another Adobe legal case. The filing reports that a London arbiter ruled last week that Adobe's contract with Agfa Monotype regarding font-related technology remains valid, but that Adobe did violate some terms of the contract. The arbiter ruled in Agfa's favor on one of three claims, according to the filing, with damages to be awarded later.

Adobe's American cases involving Agfa and its International Typeface subsidiary remain unresolved, with Agfa maintaining in part that Adobe's 1990s license to use certain Agfa fonts is superseded by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.