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Adobe Suppressing Little Helper Like Apple Did

Posted by Charles | July 7, 2008 .

I’m surprised, puzzled and concerned by Adobe’s act to go after its freelancing technology evangelist by hinting trademark infringement. This happened to an Adobe AIR promoter FreshAIRapps.com, an Adobe AIR application showcase blog by James Whittaker. Apparently, Adobe is not happy about Whittaker’s use of the name “AIR” on hist domain name. According to Adobe:

Adobe® AIR™” is a trademark of Adobe that may not be used by others except under a written license from Adobe. You may not incorporate the Adobe AIR trademark, or any other Adobe trademark, in whole or in part, in the title of your Developer Application or in your company name, domain name or the name of a service related to Adobe AIR.

So, it’s not clear to me that weather “Adobe AIR” or “AIR” itself is the trademark. Does it imply that if you use “AIR” and your content is about Adobe AIR technology then you could be in trouble? Most of you may still remember how Apple went after a boy who had a blog revealing/predicting Apple’s product releases. They settled behind the court and the blog shut down after that. People can’t understand why Apply would do that to the boy who helped more than anything else. Now why Adobe would do that to a person who’s sole purpose is to promote Adobe’s technology? Is site like us, Flex888.com, on the same path?

Here is my theory.

By knowing the Flex community and some people inside Adobe, I think it could be just a trigger-happy act from the Adobe’s legal department, if Whittaker indeed received something that’s from the legal. However, I do think Adobe is trying to tighten up its trademarks and IP on the web space. Otherwise the legal won’t put the gear into action.
Obviously it’s my good-well thinking about this event. It’s up to Adobe to clear the smoke.

As for Whittaker, he actually took the action changed the site to another domain name refreshingapps.com. It tells me Adobe somewhat sent a serious message to him. Of cause Whittaker was not thrilled:

I have been in communication with members of the Adobe evangelist team
who truly believe that I am helping the community and promoting the use
of the AIR runtime and subsequent applications built on the platform. I
started this site because I have a genuine interest in AIR and other
Adobe technologies.

I’m with you, dude.

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6 Comments so far
  1. Mark  July 7, 2008 2:50 pm

    This is not new by Adobe, the legal team also forced the change of FlashObject to SWFObject a while back because of the legal trademark they have on Flash.
    John Dowdell also posted more information about the trademark usages back when this was happening: http://weblogs.macromedia.com/jd/archives/2006/04/adobe_trademark_1.html

  2. Sean Corfield  July 7, 2008 3:00 pm

    Part of the problem here is that trademark law requires companies to proactively challenge unauthorized use of trademarks – otherwise you lose the trademark. AIR(tm) is the trademark. Adobe(r) is a registered trademark. Adobe do not – and cannot – allow third party sites to use their trademarks in domain names. Normally the way it has to work is Adobe buys the domain (from the originator) and then may lease it back to them. The bottom line is that Adobe cannot legally allow people to use AIR or Adobe in a domain name. The same is true for any other product-names-as-trademarks that they own. We probably don’t see this more often because Adobe have not trademarked most of their product names (yet!).

  3. Rich Tretola  July 8, 2008 4:52 am

    The same thing happened to Edward Mansouri last year when he was asked to drop the name aipapps.com right before MAX and he was a sponsor. It is now o2apps.com.

    Not sure why I have had Adobe’s blessing with EverythingFlex.com, which has been up for over 3 years now. Jinx :-)

  4. Fabianv  July 8, 2008 7:30 am

    This is incredibly dissapointing.. why would Adobe bother a person that wants to do nothing but promote the technology.

    sigh. I’m with James on this one

  5. andrew  July 9, 2008 5:55 pm

    I’m not a copyright lawyer, but I believe copyright law is set in a way that requires companies to enforce their copyrights or risk having them slip into the public domain.

  6. Richard Stallman  July 4, 2010 9:00 pm

    Another reason why the patent system is now a counter-productive force. Either Adobe is abusing it’s power, or more likely, it’s being forced to harass people.

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