Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by OzRay, May 6, 2014.
And that is not an April's fool... :facepalm:
The question that must be asked is: 'How did the patent office ever approve this?'
What next, Canon how to hold a camera, GM how to change a tyre?
This will probably be a protective measure by amazon, its a very exact lighting setup they are using and probably their in house arrangment for all their product pics.
Looking for the good side of this I can see it as a pre-emptive measure to prevent some patent troll doing it then suing them and every other online store, magazine or the likes for infringement. This way amazon has the patent. buries it and gets on with its business. Its not as though they can police every photo studio in the land. it just means at some point down the line they dont have to pay to lawyer up and defend against some bottom feeding patent trolls suit. And this also by proxie would protect other photographers from the self same bottom feeder types.
If amazon does try and enforce it, the very specific lighting setup and specific workflow they have would have to exactly the same as the one someone uses for it to be applicable and even then prior art should be pretty easy to prove.
I still think its insane if they get the patent, but I can see some of the reasons they might have for trying to get it. and again. if they cant get the patent, means no one else will and its a win win.
In general, even when common practices are public and known, if a patent describes specific steps or processes, the prior art isn't considered.
Keep in mind that anyone who has the slightest difference in their process to the patent means they aren't infringing on the patent. Obviously, a lawyer could always go after someone or another company that uses a similar process.
Every single patent examiner at the USPTO should be fired, and all of their supervisors and managers taken out and executed. If there's any government agency which has failed as totally and completely as the PTO, in the history of the U.S., I don't know what it is.
Not sure what all the outrage is, unless you happen to follow this exact detailed lighting setup, with exactly those lights, in that configuration. They are protecting their way of shooting, not infringing on others version.
I think the outrage is because that most people (myself included) were taught that you could not patent something that was already generally known or already being used extensively.
I personally don't think there is sufficient difference to what had been used for product (and even portraits) shots for many many years for this to be a valid patent and perhaps should not have been granted.
I think the problem is that these sorts of patents become exceptionally trivial and can lead, and have led, to excruciating law suits vis a vis Apple with their rectangle. There is no reason to approve a patent for a lighting setup, if the mere variation of one element (by how much?) excludes patent infringement. It's just patently (pun intended) dumb.
But you can patent your specific way of creating an effect. Take Xerox and their handwriting-recognition software (the one Palm used for their early Palm Pilots). I would see a problem if Amazon said "We patent anything against a white background". Since you can't patent a "look" the best you can do is to patent your way of achieving it. I see this as a defensive patent (allowing Amazon to know their specific lighting setup is protected), instead of one where Amazon is going to choose to attack others. Honestly, I have a feeling that it is probably a "trade secret" that was no longer secret, and then was patented to keep it "in-house". Same way if Coke ever lost the secrecy of their recipe, they can then patent (with the resulting loss of patent after it expires), to ensure exclusivity.
Anyone may attempt to defend the patent, but I suspect that to the ordinary person, it's comes across as an utterly stupid decision. I don't believe that the USPTO is held in very high regard for the decisions that it has made, past and present; decisions that affect not just the US, but the entire world.
The broader problem is that patents (at least in the US) were originally intended to promote scientific progress by ensuring that inventors can profit from their hard work (and not simply be ripped off by copycats). But the laws on the books have manifestly failed to do this - the patents they allow frequently hinder such progress rather than encouraging it.
From lots of recent articles on all manner of subjects, it does appear that the US patent system is broken. There is some light at the end of the tunnel with patent trolls being sorted out to some extent, but there still seems to be a major issues in the patent office itself. There really should be no need for this sort of patent whatsoever.
Art is not considered in a patent, copyright is for art. A patent is a process or object. Although this process may have existed for years, it must be that nobody filed for a patent before. Of coarse I am perplexed why they would do this. It would almost impossible to sue for infringement! It would not be possible to tell from a photo so they would have to see the studio setup.
And the Chinese will simply copy it anyway. No company has been able to successfully sue a Chinese copy for patent or trademark or copyright because you have to go through a Chinese court. Importers of said products have been sued but not the parent Chinese factory. Even worse is that many of the products are sold as if they were the original. For us in the camera hobby, batteries are often marked as being from Olympus/Panasonic/etc.. when in fact they are Chinese knock-offs.
Perhaps Olympus and Panasonic can implement a firmware update; if the ISO is 320 and the aperture is f/5.8 and the background is determined to be 'seamless white' then the camera could override the ISO and move it to 319 or 321 with a notice in the EXIF that any patent infringement is now null and void.
Any issues with the changed ISO would have to be handled in post processing, of course.
If you have a huge difference in the process, you can be found to infringe the patent because if the look is same.
The patent isn't exact, it is all "abouts" from ISO to F-stop.
But the good thing is, that patent would be totally useless in any other countries court rooms (I wish...)
If going step by step the patent, it is very common way to shoot and light in studio or stage.
If really wanted to be accurate, the patent should tell exactly every distance and angle, light power, light source angle, color temperature and lots of very very scientific measurements what anyone would need to replicate the results to get similar ones.
You can "patent the look" and that is the problem. Design patents what you get protects the look, not manufacturing or ways to get that look.
No, not for photography. All you can do is protect your gwnerated work, but not the style of a shot.
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