Senior vice president, general counsel and secretary, Adobe
Founded in 1982, Adobe Systems Inc. of San Jose,
Calif., is now one of the world’s leading software com-
panies, with operations in North America, Europe, the
Pacific Rim, Japan and Latin America. It develops, mar-
kets and supports software products and technologies
for general consumers, creative professionals, digital
photographers and video pros, and provides intelligent
document solutions for document-intensive organiza-
tions. The firm boasts that almost every image seen in
today’s print and electronic media has been touched
by its Photoshop software, the industry standard in
desktop digital imaging, and its Acrobat family of prod-
ucts using the portable document file (PDF) format.
Adobe’s 3,500 employees have thus helped to spur
a modern publishing revolution, along with generating
fiscal 2003 revenues of $1.295 billion.
The illegal distribution and use of pirated software
is a significant problem for Adobe and its competitors, and software piracy is a primary focus of General
Counsel Karen Cottle’s efforts. Because software is
so valuable and can be copied rapidly and with ease,
piracy is rampant, from individual thieves to professionals who deal in wholesale stolen or counterfeit
items. As a result, the industry claims yearly losses
of $12 billion in lost sales.
Adobe has taken several steps to combat this
vexing problem. Its anti-piracy enforcement group
has created a Web site to discourage theft and other
misuse. Adobe has also developed internal enforcement mechanisms to root out in-house pirates. It
monitors e-mails selling software and works closely
with eBay Inc. to purge suspect materials from auction sites. Cottle’s team also pursues resellers of
pirated software and cooperates with law enforcement personnel in doing so.
Adobe is a member of the Business Software Alliance, a Washington-based industry watchdog that
tracks down and prosecutes pirates and educates
users about the risks of pirated software. The firm
also joins with public policy groups in advocating positions on copyright protection. To further guard its
products, Adobe now incorporates anti-piracy activation devices into some of its software.
“Intellectual property is the critical element of Adobe’s assets,” said Cottle, whose department “covers
the bases” with respect to protecting it. In addition to
the anti-piracy campaign, Cottle’s team is immersed
in copyrights, trademarks and in-bound licenses.
Copies of Adobe products featuring their proprietary
ADOBE SYSTEMS INC.
Townsend and Townsend and
Brown, Martin, Haller & McClain (software piracy); J. Andrew Coombs (copyright); Fish & Richardson
(patent dispute); Sidley Austin; Wilson, Sheehy, Knowles, Robertson & Cornelius (patent dispute);
Morrison & Foerster; Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner (trade secrets, breach of contract); DLA Piper (copyright infringement)