Amazon’s New Patent: Why We Should Probably Chill Out

amazon-seamless-white

There’s been news circulating around of a new patent Amazon’s recently secured itself with, and it sounds a bit ridiculous when you take a look at the headlines coming out. For those who don’t know, Amazon basically patented a type of photography where one light is shining straight at the subject, along with light completely filling the background; in other words, seamless white background photography.

The patent was granted back in March, but news of this made the rounds just yesterday, angering many voices in the online photography community. The good news, however, is that there might not be that much cause for concern in the first place.

amazon-seamless-white-03

Here’s more of an exact description of the patent:

“Embodiments of the disclosure are directed in an arrangement of various elements to form a studio in which items, people, products, clothing, or any other object can be photographed or filmed to achieve a particular effect. More specifically, embodiments of the disclosure can allow images and/or video of an item placed in a studio arrangement as described herein to be captured with a background that appears, when captured with an image capturing device, as a near perfect white without the need for post-processing, retouching, or other image manipulation.”

The controversy here comes from the face that Amazon is pretty much claiming ownership of a specific type of photography. While this is indeed a bizarre thing to patent, it’s unfortunately a great headliner for the comments section to be able to raise chaos. The thing we need to remember is exactly who we’re dealing with here, and why they’d even make claim a patent like this in the first place.

amazon-seamless-white-02

Amazon is the biggest shopping network in the world, period. They’ve got a tremendous amount of products to photograph and post for customers to view what they’re buying, and it’s not a big secret that product photography typically uses seamless white backgrounds. But why copyright it? Isn’t it completely crossing the line when you’re essentially patenting a technique that’s been used by normal people for ages now?

It’s because Amazon’s a big company, and big companies play dirty games. We’ve seen it- no- we’re still seeing it happen with Apple and Samsung, and Amazon’s securing a patent like this so that another patent hog company doesn’t come and claim it. It’s sad to say this, but there are people out there that will sue you for using a photography technique when they have it patented. Should someone with that patent try and sue Amazon, who make thousands of these photographs per day, they’d have a hefty sum of cash coming in their way. What Amazon’s doing is protecting itself from companies like that.

So put down your pitchforks and don’t worry. It’s a bummer that that’s how the patent game works, but you guys are good. You’re still safe to take photography with seamless white backgrounds, and Amazon doesn’t have anything to gain from suing you for it.

  • http://www.vitamincm.com VitaminCM

    I just patented a sandwich where one piece of white bread has peanut butter on it and the other has jelly.
    I call it the PBJ.

    • Maaz Khan

      …So.. will you sue me if I make one? Because I haven’t eaten anything at all this morning.

      • http://www.vitamincm.com VitaminCM

        I don’t plan to sue anybody yet, but if I see someone enjoying their sandwich too much, I reserve the right to send a cease and decist.

        • Maaz Khan

          In that case, I just added Nutella to it.

          • Don Carlson (comedian)

            I would like to patent a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, shaped like a middle finger, photographed against a seamless background.

  • http://spaghettitree.tumblr.com/ tani P.

    Ah, a voice of reason! Let’s hope you’re right (I think you’re right).

  • Ben

    I’m guessing this is an US patent, and not an “international” patent. In us, it’s extremely easy to get a patent but I doesn’t protect much your idea or design.
    Even if you patent your”idea” you’re not garented to win the case.

    In Europe, an idea can only be protected if new and unknown of the public. (As soon as it’s somewhere on Internet, your patent won’t be delivered). And there is no way a lighting setup will be patent as it’s not a “mechanical idea” or a design.

    • http://wilcfry.com/ Wil Fry

      It’s supposed to be that way in the U.S. too. Any patent granted should encompass a “novel” idea, not one that’s in common use. My gripe isn’t with Amazon, but with the U.S. Patent Office, for granting a patent for such a common practice. Might as well patent eating with a fork or stamping snow off your boots.

    • bill

      As will mentions, it is *exactly* the same way in the US. Claim 1 is in fact an apparatus claim with mechanical elements. And International patents cover methods all of the time, not simply “mechanical ideas” or a design.

  • Lawyer

    What a joke – only in US is this possible, to patent or claim a form of copyright on ideas that have been around basically for ages – ideas what do not have any originality, novelty and invention to them. Even under the articles of international patent and copyright acts, not to mention European ones, this shouldn’t be possible. The same goes for the many ideas that Apple, Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung, etc. have patents on.
    It seems, that all international corporations have been searching patent libraries for unpatented solusions in existence, and have filed for patent – for things that should not be patentable for years now. This has become a (core) business in its own form – to make money on basically absurd patents – find a stupid working idea that has not yet been patented, patent it, and then sue anyone, who is using it. Absurd! Globalization and protectionizm have fuelled this even further, since many countries recognize in their courts international and domestinc and foreign laws in IP.

  • apesterin

    Same rubbish argument as – give stupid powers to government because these nice guys will never use that against good public. We’ve seen time and again what that means

    So what about when amazon is no longer as big a player? What if a competitors comes through offering better deals and amazon try to shoot them off the market using this (because as you say that’s how it works). The amazon of today will not be like this forever, period.

    The bottom line is that such stupid patents should never be allowed by USPTO. That solves the problem of amazon needing to defend themselves, because no one has the nonsense offence capability. Instead they allow this idiocy, and people like you end up advocating it in the name of – that’s the way it works

    And dont confuse patent and copyright (i’m just hoping it was a typo)

    • Maaz Khan

      I’m not saying that companies should be allowed to do things like this. I gave facts on the likelihood of things happening to us as photographers because of an event like this. I’m not trying to advocate a decision here.

      There’s blog posts popping up right now that are talking about this like it’s the death of freedom in photography and I was saying that the odds are against anything like that happening because of this. People get worried too quickly about things like this, but things like this have been happening in the US for a long time now.

      For the record, I don’t think patents like this should ever be allowed either; but what I’m saying is that there’s no way in hell this will get in the way of us being able to use a white background.

      • matthewmaurice

        Wow, talk about wishful thinking. I’m sure lots of people said “awww, the RIAA will never sue me for downloading a few songs.” And then a few of them got very rude awakening. The whole concept of a “patent troll” is to monetize a patent by offering to “license” the patent for an amount that is commercially viable but less than litigation.

        Even if you’re positive that Amazon isn’t going to sue over this patent, what’s to prevent some two-bit Intellectual Ventures from patenting “Rembrandt lighting” or some other technique and going after thousands of small photographers. Don’t forget, one doesn’t have “to sue a thousand other people for doing the same thing” you just have to THREATEN to sue 10,000 other people in the hopes that a small percentage will send you a check rather than risk bankruptcy from legal fees and a possible judgement.

        Luckily, there’s probably enough prior art to invalidate this patent, and that’s exactly what should be done. Rather than burying our heads in the sand and “chill out” photography Trade Organizations, and patent reformers everywhere, should immediately act to get this patent canceled sooner rather than later. The only way to stop patent trolls is to show them that there’s no money to be made trolling their patents.

        • Maaz Khan

          Yeah.. I was just writing in regards to this specific patent here. The reason I’m so sure on Amazon not doing a single thing against any of us is because the concept of suing over a seamless background is too hilarious to ever come into fruition.

          Otherwise, no wishful thinking for me in other situations like this. Patent trolls are a sadistic species.

          • matthewmaurice

            Well that’s the thing, despite talking about “this specific patent here” you’re really talking about all patents everywhere, or at least in the USA. If Amazon gets away with this, then it opens the door for the next, potentially less altruistic, guy to do it as well. Pretty soon someone will get a patent strong enough to win some judgements and we’ll all wonder how we got to that point.

          • Maaz Khan

            The thing is, patents like this one are a common occurrence now; we’re living in a world where the word “candy” is starting to get patent protection.

            Our system in the USA is broken, without a doubt. Big companies can receive patents like this without much dispute at all, and that is a problem. On the other hand, though, we’ve also reached an age where a company’s reputation is detrimental to their success. Most civil suits between big names typically end up being settled outside of the court to avoid costs. If it comes down to fighting the little guy, then settlements are even more likely, considering all the bad press the company won’t want to have put on it.

            That being said, there are still exceptions. We already know corporations like Comcast or the RIAA don’t give one damn about their reputation, and they’re big enough to handle whatever backlash they receive. But the fact that social media is becoming such a prevalent factor into disputes like these gives me a bit of hope (wishful thinking admitted, here.) for the future.

            You’re right, though. Patents like this open more and more doors for corrupt business practices, regardless of what Amazon says their intentions are.

          • matthewmaurice

            “The thing is, patents like this one are a common occurrence now”

            Exactly the reason to NOT “chill out” and to encourage those with the resources and most at stake (i.e. photog trade orgs) to get this patent cancelled.

            “Our system in the USA is broken, without a doubt.”

            So let’s fix it. Bureaucracies have enormous inertia, and they rarely fix themselves unless acted upon by outside forces.

            “Patents like this open more and more doors for corrupt business practices”

            That’s the thing, protecting patents isn’t a corrupt practice, it’s totally legal and downright necessary in a capitalistic system. The problem is letting companies protect bad patents. Getting bad patents cancelled is the easy answer to the bigger problem.

          • bill

            “candy” does not get patent protection. It *possibly* gets copyright protection. And in some cases where it “wins” that status it can later lose it under appeal, just like patents.

            I’d also argue that most companies don’t market to ordinary retail consumers and so their reputation in such areas isn’t really very important to them.

  • http://www.vitamincm.com VitaminCM

    Seriously, I’ve read dozens of copywrited books that advocate and diagram this exact setup. If somebody has a copywritten book that lays out a technique like this, isn’t it “existing art”. And… Aren’t they kind or stealing the work of others?
    I think it’s ridiculous at face value, but if you establish this as a precendent, Amazon is infringing on about a thousand pieces of intellectual property.

    • Maaz Khan

      It is a ridiculous setup. One thing I’ve learned growing up in the US is that money talks. A good thing we’ve got going for us now, though, is how loud public reaction can be. A company like Amazon tries suing a small-time photographer over a patent like that; they won’t get pretty far. It’ll destroy their reputation.

      • matthewmaurice

        The problem isn’t Amazon, it’s other patent trolls who, obviously, don’t care about their reputations (e.g. Intellectual Ventures et al).

    • bill

      Wonderful. Please show one that has all of the elements of the claim. Not the discussion text, not the diagrams, not the background. The patent claim – which is the only thing that matters. Just one example and the patent is dead. But that claim 1 has a lot of very specific details.

  • Renato Murakami

    Yep, that’s basically it. When people say that the patent system is broken, this is what they mean.
    This is far from being a novel concept, with several other huge outrages at big companies also being raised in the past, but as long as the patent system allows for trolls to make a living out of suing big companies, cases like this one will keep happening over and over again.

    Also, the ToS outrages, trademarks, and basically everything where something similar could happen.

    There has been reported cases of patent troll corporations buying small or bankrupt brands and companies only to get their hands into a patent that enabled them to sue a big company based on it.
    They have absolutely no intention whatsoever to use the patents for anything else than court fuel.

    When companies like Facebook, Google and others changed their ToS to something that sounded like they were entitled to all your personal content including photos and profile information, it’s not like they targeted to steal your photos and use them for marketing schemes and whatnot.
    It was mostly because they, as a company, were afraid that a troll company or trolls overall might want to make a baseless lawsuit because they were “manipulating” the photos and data without permission.

    And then you have cases like game companies filling trademarks for words like “candy”, “crush”, and “saga”, being granted, and then proceeding to threat other game companies with games with similar names but absolutely no connection to their own.

    It’s because we have such a bad history of successful trolls gaming the patent system and other intellectual property ownership claims that Amazon and other companies end up doing what they do.
    The whole thing is locked into a downward spiral. Big companies making bad patents because they are afraid that troll companies could make such bad patents to game the system and fill lawsuits against them. Unless the whole system changes and get fixed, we’ll only keep hearing of such things.

    • bill

      We should all just kill ourselves, its hopeless. You first. (for the snark impaired – i’m exaggerating to mock his hyperbole)

      Patent rights are property rights – nothing wrong with selling them – and there has never been the concept that you have to sell products or services employing them. And trolls go back about 150 years – google patent sharks.

      Bunch of know nothing bed wetters.

  • dbhalling

    The stupidity of this article is overwhelming. Clearly the author does not know how to read a patent. First of all the purpose and the motivation are in this paragraph:

    Prior art solutions for achieving such a result for capturing images and/or video of objects set against a true white background include solutions that often involve some type of image retouching, post processing, “green screen” techniques, or other special effects and image and video manipulation to achieve the result of an object set against a true white background. Accordingly, as will be described herein, embodiments of the present disclosure provide a studio arrangement in which an object can be photographed and/or filmed, and the images and/or video captured by the camera achieve the effect noted above without any image manipulation due to the particular arrangements of the subject, camera, lighting and background.

    Second of all the claims are quite narrow – of course the author of this article either doesn’t know what claims are or how to read them, and most readers will be in the same position, so they can play fast and loose with the facts.

    1. A studio arrangement, comprising: a background comprising a white cyclorama; a front light source positioned in a longitudinal axis intersecting the background, the longitudinal axis further being substantially perpendicular to a surface of the white cyclorama; an image capture position located between the background and the front light source in the longitudinal axis, the image capture position comprising at least one image capture device equipped with an eighty-five millimeter lens, the at least one image capture device further configured with an ISO setting of about three hundred twenty and an f-stop value of about 5.6; an elevated platform positioned between the image capture position and the background in the longitudinal axis, the front lightsource being directed toward a subject on the elevated platform; a first rear light source aimed at the background and positioned between the elevated platform and the background in the longitudinal axis, the first rear light source positioned below a top surface of the elevated platform and oriented at an upward angle relative to a floor level; a second rear light source aimed at the background and positioned between the elevated platform and the background in the longitudinal axis, the second rear light source positioned above the top surface of the elevated platform and oriented at a downward angle relative to the floor level; a third rear light source aimed at the background and positioned in a lateral axis intersecting the elevated platform and being substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis, the third rear light source further positioned adjacent to a side of the elevated platform; and a fourth rear light source aimed at the background and positioned in the lateral axis adjacent to an opposing side of the elevated platform relative to the third rear light source; wherein a top surface of the elevated platform reflectslight emanating from the background such that the elevated platform appears white and a rear edge of the elevated platform is substantially imperceptible to the image capture device; and the first rear light source, the second rear light source, the third rear light source, and the fourth rear light source comprise a combined intensity greater than the front light source according to about a 10:3 ratio.

    In order to show that amazon should not have received this patent, you must show that each and every one of the elements and connections in the above referenced claim are show in the same arrangement. I doubt the author of this article can do so, in fact I don’t think he could read the claim well enough to know even where to start.

    This is just pure propaganda.

    • bill

      Well said dbhalling. The claims are very narrow – they are likely not infringed or trivially invalidated – or there actually is something new and innovative about that specific combination. Reading blogs that talk about patents, but are not patent blogs, is like reading the thoughts of Sarah Palin on Camus. It can be amusing for a few minutes but then your head starts to hurt as the novelty wears off and the ignorance sinks in.

      • Lwr

        Sadly, bill, it is clear from your comments that you have no clue as to what a patent is, or is supposed to be, not to mention what its original meaning and purpose was. Such a method sould have never-ever gotten a patent.

        • bill

          Lets settle this matter of knowledge then: claim 1 isn’t a method claim. So who doesn’t know anything about patents Sarah?

          I try to avoid personal attacks, but will sometimes respond in kind. Fortunately I had a matter of substance to throw into the response as well. Do you?

          • Lwr

            Ok, bill, as I understand you, Amazon invented the studio, and inventory within it: backgrounds, lihting, cameras, etc. The mere phrase “studio arrangement” indicates that it is nothing more then a plain method of doing something.
            Please look up some international conventions, as well as domestic regulations governing patents, and see, what is required from an idea to be patentable in the first place. It does not state that file a stupid idea, and we will grant you a patent.
            Therea are only two things patentable – a product (design in broader sense), and/or method. An example. If somebody figured out how to radically redesign paperclips, making them better, more effective and functional – that would constitute product design. If making of those clips regires special know-how, that is a method.
            One argument of patentability is NEW – this means either a complete redesign of an existing product, or a redesign which has significant improvements over the existing product, and yet can be considered as new.
            The Amazon patent is like someone coming up with the idea of triangular-shaped paperclips and then patenting them. Mere change in shape (or in case of Amazon, some details on how to shoot against white background), does not answer to all the requirements of patentability.

          • bill

            Lwr – once again – the term “method” is well defined in US and International patent law. Claim 1 is for a system, an arrangement of physical elements. Such a thing is called an apparatus claim. Apparatus claims are not, in any way, the same as method claims.

            You’ve mentioned conventions and regulations without citing any. Thats not very helpful. Here is a citation that will inform you on the difference between appartus and method claims – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Method_(patent). That page will also inform you that there are not two but four types of utility patents. And none of them are design patents – those are a separate class. Your paperclip example is an example of an article of manufacturer, not a design patent.

            Finally, “mere changes in shape” can infact be novel, distinct, valuable and patentable. The devil is in the details.

    • Maaz Khan

      I don’t know what the propaganda is in me telling people that they’re not going to be losing freedoms because of this patent. I didn’t really advocate anything to begin with for there to be propaganda in the first place.

      I don’t really care about whether they should have received the patent or not. That’s not what the point of what I wrote was. I don’t care about this patent, and I’m saying others shouldn’t either. You’re literally reinforcing what I said.

      Sincerely,

      The author who can’t read.

      • dbhalling

        It’s amazing that someone with your ignorance of patents and how the work can be so arrogant. Since you don’t know how patents work, you have no idea if this one is valid. But you pontificate as if you have some actual knowledge.

        Someone who has no idea what they are talking about, but spouts off strong opinions is propagandizing. This statement “t’s because Amazon’s a big company, and big companies play dirty games.” is pure propaganda.

        • Maaz Khan

          I don’t engage in discussions when the other side starts resorting to personal attacks; your comment history is full of them, so I don’t see you changing your mind on that anytime soon.

          Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more propaganda to spread. This glorious new regime isn’t going to build itself.

          • dbhalling

            My comment history is full of pointing out people who are demonstrably ignorant of patents such as yourself.

  • John

    It does not change the fact that there is a thing called “a precedent” (not sure about the accurate word, I’m French) when it comes to IP, that prevents people from patenting something already known or used…
    Kudos to Amazon’s IP crew indeed, cause such a thing should not have been possible…

  • Jeffrey Guyer

    As someone who practiced law for almost 15 years before going into photography full-time, I agree with the premise that we all need to chill out, but I also think the reasoning and analysis falls a little bit short.

    For starters, copyright and patent are both very technical concepts, and each applies to entirely different things. In one paragraph of this article, the question is asked, “But why copyright it?” The answer is that they didn’t copyright it– they patented it. Copyright applies to created works and ideas– books, articles, photographs, original artwork, logos, etc. When our thoughts take actual form they can be copyrighted.

    A process, on the other hand, is eligible for patent protection– not copyright. Some may think this is a distinction that isn’t much of a distinction, but if you’ve ever had to take steps to enforce the protection of either, you know that the distinction is extremely important.

    I take a little bit of issue with the notion that the only reason Amazon did this was because they are a big company and big companies play dirty games. Chances are much more likely that because they are big company with several production offices and locations, they wanted a set or processes and procedures in place to ensure consistent quality across the board. It is also worth noting that a large percentage of product photos that appear on Amazon are supplied by the actual product vendor, and not Amazon itself.

    So, is it really crossing a line to patent something that people have been doing for decades? A cardinal business guideline is to find a void and fill it. I agree that just because we CAN do something doesn’t always mean that we SHOULD, but I also can’t necessarily fault someone for seeing an opportunity and taking it.

    It’s also worth noting that in order for Amazon to turn around and sue anyone for a white seamless photograph, they would have to prove that the photo was taken using the EXACT same setup as delineated in the patent application and supporting diagrams. Simply removing the platform, for instance, renders the entire uproar moot. That’s the real reason to not worry about this.

    • Maaz Khan

      I’ll admit i don’t know much about patents to begin with; the main point of the article, as you pointed out, was just to try calming people down.

      But that thing I wrote about copyright law… I’m slapping myself over it right now. I’m about to head into law school so now I just feel like an idiot for mixing the two. I’ll edit it.

    • matthewmaurice

      “Simply removing the platform, for instance, renders the entire uproar moot.” But does it really? The modus operandi of Patent Trolls is to take a patent and “license” it at a fee that represent an amount that is commercially-viable but less than the cost of litigation. Getting to that “moot” part may be more than a lot of photographers can afford, so exactly how “moot” is it? I’m not too worried about Amazon going on a lawsuit spree, but that’s exactly the business model of a lot of companies.

      • bill

        In that case you lose on something called Rule 11 and end up paying attorney fees for the people you sue. Such fees shifting are traditionally difficult to win but the Supreme Court made it much easier this week and the elements in the patent claim here also make the case much easier to argue for fee shifting. The platform is an essential element and apparent (in the sense of observable, not hidden within an integrated circuit for example) to anybody claiming infringement. If you allege infringement and you know its not there you will get slapped hard.

        This patent is not at all an example of the kind of patent Trolls are using.

        • matthewmaurice

          How much money (let alone time and aggrevation) does it take to get to the point where, assuming you won, you can get your legal fees shifted? $1000, $5000, $50,000? How many photographers can afford even the low-end of that scale, even assuming no disruption to their business. Why even let it come to that? Get the patent canceled and nip the problem in the bud.

    • http://www.nastyclamps.com/ Mister Nasty Clamps

      Jeffrey: Actually, it really is crossing a line when our government grants patent protection to something that people have been doing for decades –– even when there’s no intent of the part of the grantee to enforce the patent. To begin with, there’s the whole matter of precedent: prior art/prior process become an absolutely meaningless phrase when patents are granted to long establish procedures, methodologies, means of production, and/or products with a marketplace history.

      Secondly, if Amazon really wants to establish consistent quality across the board with a specific process, well, that’s a managerial/procedural/HR issue, not something to be taken up with the government nor granted special protection/privilige.

      Thirdly, some folks have brought up the matter of this patent being granted for use with a very specific process, lens selection, ISO and lighting set-up, etc… and a cursory reading will give that impression. That is, until the very last section:

      “Many variations and modifications may be made to the above-described embodiment(s) without departing substantially from the spirit and principles of the disclosure. All such modifications and variations are intended to be included herein within the scope of this disclosure and protected by the following claims.”

      Translated into English: “Anything involving lights, product photography, and a white cyclorama is owned by us.”

      Now, do I expect Amazon to send cease and desist letters out to anyone and everyone shooting photos with a white backdrop? No, of course not… Well, probably not… But the precedent is now set for much, much more egregious patent awards. Hell, it was bad enough when the USPTO granted a patent on swinging in swing (yes, really: http://www.google.com/patents/US6368227).

      Lastly –– and this is the end of my rant for now –– does anyone at the U.S. Patent office know how to use a search engine?

      • Jeffrey Guyer

        I don’t disagree, Matt. I definitely think it’s over-reaching from a regulatory perspective. I think the patent office is the party that absolutely dropped the ball on this. The points in my comment had more to do with what I perceived to be inconsistencies with the article itself– agreeing with the idea that we should all just take a breath, disagreeing somewhat with why.

        • http://www.nastyclamps.com/ Mister Nasty Clamps

          Jeffrey: But it’s more than simple regulatory over-reach… It’s reflective of a particular mindset at Amazon: that common and/or obvious procedures are actually unique to Amazon (re: one click checkout; subscription-based shipping) and deserving of protection. Sure, the patent office dropped the ball, but it was Amazon –– and their idiotic law firm Thomas-Horstemeyer (http://www.tkhr.com/) ––who first set the ball into motion.

          Again, I don’t think that anyone will end up getting sued by Amazon. Errrrhhhh… I hope not. But the precedent set by the Patent Office’s actions is huge, and we’d all better hope that a re-examination of the patent (with subsequent overturning) takes place soon.

      • bill

        You can only assert a claim as being infringed – not the words of the rest of the specification. Those words inform what you mean by terms in your claim – but only the claim controls. So no, the patent quite clearly is not “Anything involving lights, product photography, and a white cyclorama is owned by us.”

        Claim 1 tells you what the iso is. You need to use that iso. It tells you how many lights there are and where they are. You need to use those. Your translation is factually incorrect – only the claims count.

  • IlyatheGreat

    If they were responsible, they would just publish this and no one can claim a patent from a published device.

  • Lumenatic

    I totally do not understand the US patent system. Here in Europe a patent must exhibit three properties:
    1.) the invention must reflect some degree of technical innovation (“the spirit of invention” or similar)
    2.) the invention must be new
    3.) the invention must be commercially exploitable.
    While 1 and 3 might be arguable in a broad spectrum point 2 is very strict. If it’s been shown or done before it is considered “state of the art” and therefore not patentable. If there is any form of proof that the subject to be patented has been done before – articles, blogs, magazine papers, products, even trade show presentations or announcements on your webpage – your patent is dead. That also applies if you publish about it by yourself. Submit a paper in a scientific magazine describing your idea – patent dead.

    • bill

      2 applies in the US as well – have you read the claims? Which ones do you think you have proof have been used before?

  • go go power rangers

    haha..this is total bullshit..let’s make campaign and try to use this ‘patented’ method all over the world. and let’s wait and see if they can make a law pursuit in everyone of them. or you can simply make a world war of it. total plain bullshit.

  • http://www.djsphotography.biz Dennis Smith

    Could it be that they just don’t want to pay for product photography. Can’t change them if they own the patent.

  • JohnFen

    “It’s because Amazon’s a big company, and big companies play dirty games”

    And Amazon has a history of playing dirty patent games. Have we all forgotten about 1-click already?

    ” What Amazon’s doing is protecting itself from companies like that.”

    Baloney. There are ways of protecting yourself from things like that that don’t involve abusing the patent system yourself. For example, they could just publish the details of their setup in a photography journal, establishing it as prior art.

  • hollandphoto79

    I work as a photographer for a company that sells thousands of products through Amazon and can tell you through experience (as it is my daily job): Amazon does not photograph ANY of the products on their site aside from the Amazon brand specific ones (ie, Kindle). The images are ALL supplied by either the company selling the item through Amazon or the manufacturer or the product. If there is a problem with the image of a product on their site, they contact the seller to get it fixed, they do not touch it themselves. So I’m not sure the reasoning behind Amazon’s move here or this articles reasoning as they do not utilize this technique for any of the millions of products selling on their site (again, aside from the Amazon brand specific ones like the Kindle).

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/kombizz/sets/ kombizz

    Interesting flow charts

  • Allswell

    I just patented the technology of combining sliced bread with various condiments to make a seamlessly delicious variety of consumables. Commonly, these will be known as “sandwiches” , and all owned by me.

  • Jennifer B.

    This is insane. But actually, the best article I’ve read so far on the
    new Amazon patent of photographing a product on white, seamless
    backboard in studio setting. I use this technique, as well as countless
    others. I think I’m safe, however. I use a cardboard box with the
    sides and top cut out and covered with tissue paper. I slide a cut-to-fit poster board into the box. I don’t use
    lighting, I simply take my cardboard box outside and use sunlight as my
    light source. I’m good until they patent the sun.