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Adobe, Macromedia to square off in court

Software maker Adobe Systems is set to dump a bit of rain on Macromedia's parade Monday as a patent suit over the Flash Web animation tool heads to a courtroom.

Software maker Adobe Systems is set to dump a bit of rain on rival Macromedia's parade Monday.

While Macromedia executives tout one of the company's biggest product launches ever--Web design tool Dreamweaver MX--company lawyers will be in court for the beginning of a contentious patent suit against Adobe.

Adobe filed the suit in August 2000, alleging that the user interface of Macromedia's Flash Web animation tool infringes on Adobe's patent for "tabbed palettes," a feature that allows users of design software to rearrange the work space on the PC screen.

Macromedia responded soon after that with a 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.

Adobe and Macromedia representatives confirmed that a jury trial for the original Adobe suit is scheduled to begin Monday in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Del.--located in the same building where the Delaware Chancery Court is playing host to the star-studded Hewlett-Packard trial. The Macromedia countersuit is expected to go before a jury shortly after the original case is decided.

Adobe and Macromedia have emerged as fierce business competitors, with Adobe especially looking to cut into the commanding lead held by Macromedia's Dreamweaver in the market for professional Web design software.