Is It Too Difficult To Expect The Press To Understand The Difference Between Patents And Copyright?

from the just-wondering... dept

Michael Scott pointed us to a story from the Mass High Tech Business News claiming that Adobe had been hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit by EveryScape. That caught my eye because it’s pretty rare for there to be copyright infringement claims between software companies, since there needs to be actual copying of the code in question (in most cases), and that’s pretty rare. And, reading the article, it didn’t sound like anyone was actually alleging copying of code. The more I read, the more I suspected that the reporter just got the story totally wrong, and that this had to be a patent infringement case, rather than a copyright one.

And, indeed, that’s what it appears to be. The company EveryScape, appears to have two patents (7,327,374 and 7,593,022) on the technology being discussed here. I get that not everyone recognizes the differences between copyrights, patents and trademarks, but honestly, if you’re passing yourself off as a high tech publication, it seems like you should be able to get the basics down.

Furthermore, the author of the article makes it sound like Adobe directly copied EveryScape’s software and then “began passing the technology off as its own.” This implies that Adobe “took” someone else’s technology, rather than creating their own. Nothing was taken here. It sounds like EveryScape makes a small feature that’s an add-on in PhotoShop. If your business is based around selling a small feature on another company’s product, that’s just a bad business. You should expect, eventually, that other company will build its own if your feature is any good.

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Comments on “Is It Too Difficult To Expect The Press To Understand The Difference Between Patents And Copyright?”

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Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Absolutely, but we are constantly being told by the big media companies that investigative reporting is being killed by the bloggers and then find that they do not do any investigating anyway.

If you are going to be a reporter, at least take an active interest in understanding what you are reporting about. If you do not understand, pick up the phone and call someone who does – before you publish something that is just wrong. Where was the editor on this one?

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I can understand why they might not get it — what I don’t understand is why they don’t try to rectify the situation. In fact, it’s inexcusable. When I used to do more journalism, task number one was to read up on any unfamiliar subjects and make sure I wasn’t making any fundamental mistakes, and that I comprehended the basic premises and terminology of whatever I was supposed to be writing about.

Josef says:

To be fair...

Read the original article and yes it is quite obvious that the reporter was talking about patents and not copyrights. That is a pretty big mistake. Kudo’s on the catch.

Can’t say I agree with the commentary about the primary company building its own plug-in. Given the IP mania in the software business, I would think the expectation is that if your tool works, then the bigger company will buy licenses or buy you out completely. Risking a lawsuit is just a waste of time and money, especially if the smaller company has a strong case.

Anonymous Coward says:

In the process of criticizing a reporter for confusing copyrights with patents it seems to me than an ever larger issue is being overlooked. Run a search and you will find several articles that do not confuse the two. That same search, however, will yield numerous articles incorrectly stating that the suit is over copyrights.

Having read the initial news report and several of the other news reports, it seems that many were duplicates published under different headings, and many were “derivatives” that carried forward the error. In other words, an error was spread by what seems to be news aggregation, and not individual reporting.

The strength of the internet, mass communication in real time, can at times also be one of its failings, mass communication in real time that virally spreads erroneous information.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Well yeah, but the responsibility still falls in the same place: the various journalists and editors who have looked at this story before publishing/republishing/aggregating/what-have-you and failed to question or confirm even its most basic assertions. (And I know sometimes it will have been automated, but there have been plenty of eyes on this along the way)

Anonymous Coward says:

“Furthermore, the author of the article makes it sound like Adobe directly copied EveryScape’s software and then “began passing the technology off as its own.” This implies that Adobe “took” someone else’s technology, rather than creating their own.”

It seems every article ever written about a patent issue has one side “blatantly copying” the others patent. Journalists almost always frame it that way regardless of the fact that it rarely is that simple. It’s not very common for a company to copy someone else directly, especially if they know the patent exists. There is a lot of people stumbling onto the same idea independently in the corporate world.

As a bit of an aside, you also see a similar common theme in science reporting where there is one guy “fighting the system” and “bucking the common knowledge” to crusade his/her idea of how the world works.

This random “drama” that simplifies the entire thing seems to be the default way reporters work, much to their detriment. You read articles to find out what’s happening and get a deeper understanding.

RZ (profile) says:


Considering they’re in a copyright industry, you would expect them to know the difference. I can understand though, the patent system today is all about make believe and sci-fi. Who can dream up an inevitable feature for an existing product, then race to the patent office, with starry eyed optimism. Thinking you’re shrewed enough..

I’m waiting for the counter suit, when EveryScape gets hit with EveryPatent in Adobes portfolio and has to fork over EveryThing. I wonder if the press will copy paste this article or act like it’s a discovery 🙂

William says:

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I’ve been jumping out of my skin about this… as I do every time this type of misreporting happens. Do a quick Google search on

EveryScape Boston suit

and you’ll see dozens of incorrect reports that it’s a copyright suit (most of them copied from other incorrect reports).

Copyright, Patent, and Trademark are the easy parts of intellectual property law — and you’re paying for it every time you open your wallet. So, it’s in everyone’s best interests to understand what they are and how they influence our lives; we’re paying a premium for our willful ignorance, and the rights holders and lobbyists are raking it in.

Jim says:

It seems that the only thing reporters know anything about is writing news stories. When they’re writing stories about subjects they have no understanding of, they just string words together until it sounds good.

Considering how often I see errors in news reports about subjects I have knowledge of, I automatically assume that news reports about other subjects are wrong, too.

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