Adobe Doesn’t Infringe Tarkus Imaging Patent, Jury Decides

Adobe Systems Inc., the largest maker of graphic-design software, won’t have to pay more than $7 million in royalties after a federal jury today decided it didn’t infringe a patent owned by Tarkus Imaging Inc.

The jury of seven women in Wilmington, Delaware, deliberated about four hours following a two-week trial before also deciding Tarkus’s 2003 patent is valid.

“Adobe doesn’t infringe this patent,” said lawyer Frank Scherkenbach, representing Adobe, in his closing argument “It’s not magic. It’s very black and white,” he told jurors.

“We believe we’ve satisfied our burden of proof,” attorney Frederick Lorig, representing San Jose, California-based Tarkus, said in his summation. He said another rival, a U.S. unit of Nikon Corp., paid $7 million for the patent rights and that Adobe should do the same.

Neither lawyer would comment after the verdict.

Adobe, also based in San Jose, was sued by inventor Jack M. Holm’s Tarkus in 2010 for allegedly using the protected technology for processing digital color images in its Adobe Photoshop products.

Holm, who taught technical photography at Rochester Institute of Technology as a graduate student, worked at Hewlett-Packard Co. from 1997 to 2008 and left to form Tarkus, according to the complaint.

Canon Inc.’s U.S.A. unit of Lake Success, New York, was also sued in the case and settled with Tarkus under undisclosed terms just before its scheduled closing argument yesterday, Lorig told U.S. District Judge Leonard P. Stark.

Advisory Verdict

The jury wasn’t informed of the settlement. In their verdict sheet, jurors also said Canon didn’t infringe. By that time the Canon settlement had been decided and Stark said he’d consider it an advisory verdict

Adobe spokeswoman Marissa Lee didn’t immediately return voice and e-mail messages seeking comment on the verdict. Holm wasn’t immediately available to comment in San Jose.

The case is Tarkus Imaging Inc. v. Adobe Systems Inc., 10CV63, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

To see the patent, click: 6,628,823.

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