A US federal district court judge yesterday filed a preliminary injunction order against Adobe Systems, barring it from distributing its InDesign page-layout software amid allegations of copyright infringement.

The injunction affects InDesign 1.5, as well as the Adobe Design Collection, a software kit including InDesign, a company spokeswoman said. However, the company will continue to distribute the software outside of the US, where the court has no jurisdiction.

Trio Systems, a PC software component maker, lodged the copyright infringement suit against Adobe two months ago. Trio alleges that Adobe incorporated the company's C-Index database engine into InDesign, even though it had signed a contract agreeing not to use C-Index in any open programs.

Engine trouble C-Index is a database engine that co-ordinates the reading and writing of data from a computer's hard drive, according to the plaintiff's motion. The motion also states that C-Index provides "core functionality" for InDesign.

Judge William Rea filed the order on Tuesday, enjoining Adobe and any of its affiliates, distributors and representatives from distributing any products containing C-Index or any derivative of the software.

Adobe - set to release InDesign 2.0 during the first quarter of 2002 - is disappointed with the order and disagrees with the findings of the court, the company said in a statement, adding that it "will of course comply with the court".

Trio Systems attorney Henry Gradstein labelled Adobe's behaviour as "outrageous and arrogant," however, claiming that the software maker knowingly violated the terms of its licenses for C-Index.

License dispute Adobe signed a license with Trio agreeing not to use the company's database engine software, or any derivative of it, in any "open programs," or programs with a programmable interface, Gradstein said. C-Index is licensed on a per-programmer basis, and the terms of the license are designed to prevent programmers-at-large from developing software that relies on it without first obtaining a license from Trio.

Adobe's original defence claimed the employee who signed the license with Trio wasn't authorized to do so, Gradstein said. After dropping that claim, Adobe then claimed that someone at Trio had told Adobe that the license didn't mean what it said, according to the attorney. Adobe then countersued Trio.

Trio is seeking damages that could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, based on its $650 per-programmer license fee, and the number of programmers that have had access to C-Index via InDesign.

The copyright-infringement charges against Adobe are an ironic turn, Gradstein said, given that the software maker is an outspoken defender of intellectual property rights.

Piracy jibe "Just go to Adobe's Web site," he said. "Under software piracy, it says 'get legal, stay legal'. It sure is ironic that they themselves don't own up to these accusations."

Trio's next step is to look into adding the major distributors of InDesign to its case, as well as investigating whether InDesign 2.0 is based on a derivative of C-Index, according to Gradstein.

"We have established the merits of the case and now it's just a question of how much the company gets in damages," Gradstein said.

The case is expected to go to trial sometime next year.