Adobe Still Undecided About Suing Microsoft Over PDF

Adobe says it "has made no determination to take legal action against Microsoft," even though Microsoft has announced it would remove PDF support from 2007 Office.
In its first lengthy public statement about the hubbub over Microsoft Corp.'s planned Save As PDF feature in the upcoming Office 2007, Adobe Systems Inc. this week didn't rule out taking its partner to court.

Adobe "has made no determination to take legal action against Microsoft" even though Microsoft has announced it would yank the PDF feature from Office 2007 and give computer makers the option of stripping out XPS, a new Microsoft-made electronic document format, from Windows Vista when they pre-install it on PCs.

While Microsoft has been chatty about the tiff between it and its San Jose, Calif.-based rival, Adobe had kept quiet. It released the Monday statement in response to Microsoft's PR campaign on the topic.

"While we typically do not publicly discuss our negotiations with customers, partners or competitors, Microsoft recently made a decision to share with press the fact that talks with Adobe were ongoing," Adobe said. "Therefore, we feel it is important to provide additional background and clarification on a few of the resulting issues that have been raised in the coverage."

Adobe's position is that its PDF (Portable Document Format) is an open standard -- it claimed PDF had become a "de facto standard" -- and it's worried that Microsoft's use of PDF will "fragment" that standard.

"Adobe's concern is that Microsoft will fragment and possibly degrade existing and established standards, including PDF, while using its monopoly power to introduce Microsoft-controlled alternatives " such as XPS," Adobe said. "The long-term impact of this kind of behavior is that consumers are ultimately left with fewer choices."

It also called out Microsoft for predatory practices in blunt language.

"Microsoft has demonstrated a practice of using its monopoly power to undermine cross platform technologies and constrain innovation that threatens its monopolies. Microsoft's approach has been to 'embrace and extend' standards that do not come from Microsoft."

Although Adobe didn't tip its hand as to its legal plans -- "any speculation on this matter is just that," it said -- it did not exclude filing a lawsuit in the future.

Microsoft did not immediately reply to a request for comment; Brian Jones and Andy Simonds, two company developers who blogged extensively earlier this month when Microsoft announced that talks with Adobe had collapsed, have also been silent on Adobe's statement.

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