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An online publication’s news scoop about forthcoming software products has sparked a trade secrets battle. Adobe Systems Inc. has filed suit against Macintosh News Network for previewing software products still in development. Adobe says both the existence of the new versions of its products — Adobe Photoshop 6.0 and Adobe ImageReady 3.0 — and their features are trade secrets. What’s unique about the case is that a company outsider published information about Adobe’s future products. “It’s rare that type of information is acquired by someone outside the company,” said Henry Bunsow, a partner at San Francisco, Calif.’s Keker & Van Nest. Normally, he said, companies themselves announce products they are working on in order to make their competitors’ products obsolete. In Adobe Systems Inc. v. Macintosh News Network, 00-20596, filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif. on May 31, Adobe requests the court to enjoin Macintosh News Network from soliciting or disclosing Adobe’s trade secrets and for recovery of damages which it says “could conservatively amount to tens of millions of dollars.” The complaint says, “Adobe will suffer lost sales of products currently on the market, and Adobe’s competitors will have the advantage of knowing the details of Adobe’s newest products months before said products reach the marketplace.” The San Jose, Calif.-based software company is represented by Ian Feinberg, a partner at Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich’s Palo Alto office. Feinberg said he could not discuss the suit. The complaint claims that Macintosh News Network solicited Adobe’s trade secrets and then posted them online at its Web site, www.appleinsider.com/. Specifically, Adobe says the online publication obtained a copy of the detailed feature guide for the products and included blocks of text verbatim in its previews. The Apple site includes an e-mail address for viewers to submit “rumors and insider info.” However, Monish Bhatia, the publisher of Washington, D.C.-based Macintosh News Network, said no one sent the publication information about Adobe’s Photoshop 6.0 and ImageReady 3.0. “That particular document was accessible in the public domain,” Bhatia said. Bhatia said Adobe contacted him on May 30 and asked that the product reviews be removed from the Appleinsider.com Web site within 20 minutes or else the company would file suit. “I told them I would look into it,” Bhatia said, adding that he was “interested in resolving [the issue] amicably.” But Adobe was serious about wanting immediate action; the company filed its complaint the following day. Bhatia said he was “not sure yet” how he would respond to the suit. Bhatia acknowledged that other companies have objected to previous posts on Appleinsider. But, he added, the publication has “always been able to work with other legal teams.”

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