Adobe Resolves Patent Questions on ISO 32000

On behalf of Adobe, Matthew Hardy issues information to clear confusion over IP rights, software development and PDF.

PDF developers know, of course, that Adobe turned PDF over to ISO in 2008 with the publication of ISO 32000-1:2008, the ISO-ized version of PDF 1.7. Even so, it has come to our attention that questions remain about the release of patents associated with PDF.

In response to these questions, I sent the following answer clarifying the situation:

I think the major issue here is old documentation referring specifically to the Adobe PDF Reference 1.7 and earlier versus the new ISO-centric documentation.  I can point anyone to the ISO patent release document at Adobe:

http://www.adobe.com/pdf/pdfs/ISO32000-1PublicPatentLicense.pdf

It is very important to understand that this document is very explicit in its granting of rights to use the components of the ISO 32000 standard, in terms of the rights granted from an authoring and a consumption standpoint.

Adobe grants every individual and organization in the world the royalty-free right, under all Essential Claims that Adobe owns, to make, have made, use, sell, import and distribute Compliant Implementations. If a licensee brings (or participates directly or indirectly in the bringing of) a lawsuit or similar action against any other party claiming that Compliant Implementation infringes an Essential Claim, Adobe may revoke the rights granted above to such licensee. Upon such revocation, such rights will be deemed to have never been granted.

Adobe is also very clear on what “Compliant Implementation” means.

“Compliant Implementation” means the portion of an application, product, or service that reads, writes modifies or processes computer files compliant with the Specification.

This is very clearly spelled out.  I realize that even when I was searching for our patent declaration on the Adobe website, I accidentally found other pages and I can see why that causes a small amount of initial confusion.  But, as soon as you find the above document, it becomes very obvious that an old document referring to the PDF reference does not apply to the ISO 32000 standard.

I hope this clearly answers the questions that have been raised.

Matthew Hardy
Adobe Systems, Senior Computer Scientist

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