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Adobe sued over Photoshop tool

A small California software developer claims that new features in the latest version of Adobe Systems' Photoshop infringe on its trade secrets.

A small California software developer has sued Adobe Systems in a trade secrets dispute.

Shell and Slate Software, a Carpinteria, Calif.-based company that makes graphics software, filed the suit Monday in the U.S. Federal District Court for the Central District of California.

The case alleges that features in the latest version of Photoshop, Adobe's market-leading image-editing application, infringe on trade secrets held by Shell and Slate. The suit specifically cites the Healing Brush, a sophisticated touch-up tool that was one of the most highly touted new features in Photoshop 7.0.

Shell and Slate was formed two years ago by Ben Weiss, who formerly worked for MetaCreations as one of the main developers of Kai's Power Tools and Kai's Power Goo, imaging editing products that competed with Photoshop. Weiss' lawyer confirmed the lawsuit but declined to comment on it or provide a copy of the complaint.

An Adobe representative confirmed the suit and said the company will challenge it. "We don't believe it has any merit, and we intend to defend ourselves vigorously," the representative said.