A Proactive Approach
Intellectual property drives the software industry, fueling technology and innovation investments.
Yet the same advances that drove the computing revolution of the past decade—the Internet, the Web, e-mail, faster processors, cheap memory—have made the protection of intellectual property more difficult than ever.
While technology companies tried many techniques to protect their products, including encrypted floppy disks, complex serial numbers, registration schemes, and hardware dongles connected to various computer ports, these efforts focused on the technology rather than the customer.
Virtually all these past techniques were rejected by consumers as onerous, unreliable, restrictive, or just plain unfriendly.
Today, following many successful implementations of 'activation' technology in operating systems, office suites, and other major product categories, software companies are turning to 'product activation' as a workable extension of the end-user license agreement.
With growing consumer acceptance of activation, it's increasingly clear that activation strikes the elusive, yet necessary balance between user experience and software protection. But all activation approaches are not the same. Implementations can differ from one vendor to the next.
Here are answers to common questions we at Adobe Systems are asked about product activation; specifically, what activation means to users, why activation is controversial, and how high technology companies—and specifically Adobe Systems—are taking customer feedback to heart.
What is product activation?
Activation is an interactive representation of the licensing agreement that always existed between software vendors and their customers. The activation process authenticates licensed users, without hindering their ability to use the software. For example, just as photographers use watermarks to protect their intellectual property, Adobe is now using activation as a way to "watermark" Photoshop.
Why is activation controversial? The controversy surrounding activation stems from customers experiencing or having knowledge of earlier buggy, inconvenient, or unfriendly activation implementations by other companies (who shall remain nameless here). Adobe spent a year developing our activation system, which takes customers less than 30 seconds to do. Adobe's activation approach is flexible, and includes a 30-day grace period, and allows installation on two computers. With business logic built into the system, Adobe's activation solution also considers customers' usage and habits, to minimize issues related to the reinstallation of software.