Pantone’s new licensing change forces designers to pay $15 to use its colours

Designers who use Adobe’s Creative Suite tools, such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, are pushing back on a licensing change that forces them to pay Pantone an additional US$15 a month to work with its signature colours within Adobe’s apps. 

Adobe has removed support for Pantone-owned colours, which are the preferred industry standard, from its apps. This change is removing the colours from many pieces of art,  leaving designers who used Pantone colours with files full of the colour black instead.

Users also received a message saying “this file has Pantone colors that have been removed and replaced with black due to changes in Pantone’s licensing with Adobe. To resolve, click ‘Learn more’.” 

In addition, according to an article by Gizmodo, users who reluctantly agreed to pay Pantone didn’t even get a guaranteed fix. They were directed to download the Pantone Connect plugin for Adobe in the Adobe Exchange store; it has information about a “premium” subscription listed in the description. However, some found that the plugin didn’t show up in their Adobe apps, or failed to even work.

“Pantone actually required the removal, as they want to charge customers directly,” Adobe chief product officer Scott Belsky tweeted in response to the backlash.

Others who were able to access the plugin complained about the poor user interface, with some even calling it “unusable”. Pantone Connect’s product page revealed the plugin was last updated in September of 2019, which might explain the glitches and bad UI.

Users are angry about this and are speaking up about it on the plugin’s page.

“Very glitchy, and getting sick of paying extra for features that used to be included in the programs or online for free. Design programs are already expensive as it is, now we have to pay another subscription? Do better to serve your clients!” one user wrote on Oct. 19.

Because of the recent changes, the plugin has received numerous one-star reviews. About 311 of the 386 ratings of Pantone Connect are one star, giving the plugin an average score of 1.5 stars, Gizmodo reported. 

In a report by Wired, a U.K. based artist named Stuart Semple voiced his concerns regarding the new update. He noted that he pays a “fortune” to use Adobe’s software suite, and added that this latest move may impact young artists with less disposable income. 

Erin Di Leva, a spokesperson for Adobe, said the company is “currently looking at ways to lessen the impact on our customers.” 

In addition, Wired reported that Iain Pike, the senior global director of product and licensing at Pantone, noted that the company does not determine pricing, features or the user experience offered by companies that use its colour library. He added that instead, Pantone collaborates with these companies “to create the best possible customer experience.”

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Samira Balsara
Samira Balsara
Samira is a writer for IT World Canada. She is currently pursuing a journalism degree at Toronto Metropolitan University (formally known as Ryerson) and hopes to become a news anchor or write journalistic profiles. You can email her at [email protected]

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