You Can Close The Studio, Amazon Patents Photographing On Seamless White

May 6, 2014

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

You Can Close The Studio, Amazon Patents Photographing On Seamless White

May 6, 2014

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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I am not really sure how to tag this other than a big #fail for the USPTO, or a huge Kudos for Amazon’s IP attorneys. In a patent simply called Studio arrangement Amazon took IP ownership on what we all call shooting against a seamless white backdrop.

amazon-seamless-white

The patent describes the arrangement of elements in the studio to make a product shot. it even details the F-stop, ISO value and focal length you need to use [bold text by me]:

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; …

Another part of the patent describes a table and some trivial lighting:

… an elevated platform positioned between the image capture position and the background in the longitudinal axis, the front light source 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 reflects light 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.

amazon-seamless-white-03

If this all sounds too complex, the patent also describes the workflow in which you have to work in order to take the picture:

amazon-seamless-white-02

The patent number is 8,676,045B1 and you can read the entire boring text on USPTO, or just about any basic studio photography book.

Of course there is a reason for all that, and that is to take photos without any manipulation or green screen, as Amazon notes in the description of the patent:

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.

Now, I am not a patent attorney, but it seems that 1. there is plenty of prior art on this and 2. there is absolutely no way to enforce it. I just hope that the lawyers at amazon are happy with their retainers.

[USPTO via photographybay, Lighting Essentials, shootthecenterfold and countless emails]

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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211 responses to “You Can Close The Studio, Amazon Patents Photographing On Seamless White”

  1. Nasty Clamps Avatar
    Nasty Clamps

    Perhaps a worldwide “Amazon Patent Infringement Day” would be a good way to deal with this situation.

    1. ext237 Avatar
      ext237

      Yes! +1 for this fantastic idea!

    2. Fiftyseven Avatar
      Fiftyseven

      My patent is for sideways view head portraits against a yellow background. So there.

  2. João Lamas Avatar
    João Lamas

    Wtf?

    1. Honza Prokopius Avatar
      Honza Prokopius

      ^2!

  3. Bruno Couck Avatar
    Bruno Couck

    They specifically state 85mm lens… on a 4×5inch camera? Or a 4/3? This is just so crazy… Lets all share this nonsense.

    1. yopyop Avatar
      yopyop

      My thoughts too. By itself, 85mm doesn’t mean anything.

      1. Fri13 Avatar
        Fri13

        It does. Lens has its physical properties and one of them is focal length. Depending from the camera where the lens is mounted can mean different ways it is possible to be used.

        Just for that reasons objectives have their real focal length encarved to them instead what the camera crop factor gets as angle of view. Just so you can calculate and use the lens as it is.

        1. yopyop Avatar
          yopyop

          You missed the point of my comment. In a documentation such as a patent, or when you need to indicate the FOV of an image, giving only the focal lenght is not enough, because it also depends on the size of the sensor/surface placed in the focal spot.

    2. Reed Jessen Avatar
      Reed Jessen

      That means the patent is very narrow and poor quality. If you use a 75mm lens, you don’t infringe the patent.

      1. bill Avatar
        bill

        That means its narrow – not necessarily poor quality – though it suggests they were getting around prior art and had something specific in mind with regards to that specific combination of parameters. I have no idea what that could be though. Sometimes after getting enough rejections an attorney will throw in enough details to make the patent valid, but too narrow and worthless, just to get it off of their plate and tell the client they got it issued.

        1. Reed Jessen Avatar
          Reed Jessen

          I agree with you. It looks like the patent agent just needed to meet a quota or deadline or something. I think people in this thread generally are freaking out about nothing.

  4. Florian Hartmann Avatar
    Florian Hartmann

    They want to, I don’t think this will be accepted. They haven’t patented it yet;)

    1. Chris Pearson Avatar
      Chris Pearson

      Are you sure? Looking at the USPTO link it seems approved. Specifically Filed date Nov. 9, 2011 and date of patent Mar. 18, 2014.

  5. Adnan Phoenix Wolf Avatar
    Adnan Phoenix Wolf

    What the hell? Oo

  6. Adnan Phoenix Wolf Avatar
    Adnan Phoenix Wolf

    What the hell? Oo

  7. Batman Avatar
    Batman

    Well … what can I say .. US of the fuckin America .. them guys think they are the world. How can you patent photographing on white seamless when you’re a fuckin bookstore ? How about I patent the mother of the Amazon CEO and start using her however I want to … USA … a nation who stole the land from the Indians, now wants to patent the whole world .. this is lame.. Come stop me using a white seamless in my country .. I wish you luck!

    1. Mike Avatar
      Mike

      No fence-related splinters in your backside then! This situation reminds me of when our own British Telecom (BT) discovered they owned the patent to hyperlinks but generously forgoed the collection of a royalty every time a click was made.

      1. rebecca Avatar
        rebecca

        is that true? where did you read about it?

      2. glugglug Avatar
        glugglug

        BT hyperlink patent is invalid because Amazon already patented it in 1998.

        After Apple had hypercard in 1984….
        And Douglas Englebart demoed it in 1968.

    2. Mycroft Holmes Avatar
      Mycroft Holmes

      Before you get all indignant about blaming the US for everything stupid. France allowed somebody to copyright the Smiley Face! They own the rights. Now that’s almost as dumb as it gets.
      But Austrailia and GB have banned photos of a whole frickin’ 1200 foot mountain. It’s supposed to be sacred, which is why the aboriginal people leased it to the UK for a tourist attraction?
      I want to get a patent on the @ symbol, I think I can retire on a miniscule royality for each use in every email in the world.

      1. T Avatar
        T

        Could you please a) state what “mountain” you mean, b) point to the legal document detailing the banning of pictures of said “mountain”, c) point to the details of the lease you mention or, alternatively, d) STFU.

        Because your entire post reeks of ignorance and fail.

        1. Oggy Avatar
          Oggy

          Uluru

        2. bill Avatar
          bill

          God I love Sergey! “Under Australian law, namely the EPBC Act of 1999 and EPBC Regs 2000, fines in the thousands of dollars can be imposed upon commercial photographers who take pictures in the national park without a permit or who take pictures of the ‘wrong’ parts of the national park.”

          T – im gonna leave the rest of the work to you, ok?

          1. T Avatar
            T

            They’re stupid pair laws.

            But banning commercial photography is a different kettle of fish to banning photography. And Uluru is not a mountain. And Mycroft exaggerated it and went off on a whole bullshit tangent about leasing that just plain wasn’t true.

            And I’ll leave you to work out why I might have had a problem with that, OK?

          2. bill Avatar
            bill

            Why would you imagine it is not a mountain? Of course it is – heres some help on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Mountains_of_the_Northern_Territory.

            Sergey also tells me – using that string I provided – that amateur photography is also illegal in some places of Uluru. Sure he ranted – this is the Internet afterall. But I will return to the point that your personal attack on him here said he failed, was ignorant, and should STFU. Yet the google tells me that every part of what he posted that I checked – much of what you asked for – is absolutely correct.

            If you and Mycroft have a running flame war I’ll apologize for not realizing that fact and simply step back.

  • tony baldwin Avatar
    tony baldwin

    I’m going to hire a lawyer, and patent black text on a white background, both for printed works and internet web pages. Then I’m going to sue those MOFOs at Amazon for infringing my patent.

  • Paula Gemin Bell Avatar
    Paula Gemin Bell

    huh?????

  • Paula Gemin Bell Avatar
    Paula Gemin Bell

    huh?????

  • Cedric Avatar
    Cedric

    Patenting something has a cost. What interest does Amazon find by doing something like that ? I don’t understand. It isn’t April 1st anymore !

    1. brian Avatar
      brian

      I think this patent has nothing to do with preventing anyone else from using studio lighting like theirs, and more to do with ensuring that any photogs they hire have a very specific setup to follow to maintain consistency of photos on their site.

      1. matthewmaurice Avatar
        matthewmaurice

        Can you say “slippery slope?” OK, so maybe Amazon is just patenting a, long-established, technique that they only intend to use as standard process. First of all, I’d ask why patent it if you don’t intend to stop other people from doing it. More importantly, what’s to stop some patent troll company from patenting Rembrandt lighting or some other technique and then sending every small photographer in the US a letter demanding $1000 for a non-exclusive license or they’ll sue? Granted they can’t sue everyone, but the guy they do sue will either lose or spend way more than $1000 winning. And even if that guy wins and get his legal fees paid, what will he have spent in time, aggregation, and lost business?

        1. bill Avatar
          bill

          Rembrandt lighting is well known – here’s a useful link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rembrandt_lighting. I’ve asked a few times for an example – just one – of the claimed invention being well known prior to the patent application. Nobody has stepped up to the plate yet.

        2. valzi Avatar
          valzi

          “Slippery slope” is, by definition, a logical fallacy. It’s not really a term that one should use to describe an argument one believes is true.

          1. Aname Avatar
            Aname

            No, a slippery slope is an introduction to some concept in a limited form that will expand once introduced. For example, when Amazon the bookstore began to carry a non-book item, that was the slippery slope that led to it being a general merchandise company. It’s similar to the “nose of the camel”, and it’s usually used when arguing against someone’s desire to make some minor change.

            Imagine standing on the top of a child’s slide. It has been greased. You step just a little forward onto the sloping part. Oops, it’s slippery, and now you find yourself at the bottom. That one small movement forward led to a huge movement as a result — down the slippery slope.

            It has nothing to do with logical fallacies.

          2. valzi Avatar
            valzi

            You actually just described the fallacy. You didn’t disagree with me at all except for your last sentence.

        3. Johnny Rojo Avatar
          Johnny Rojo

          What do you mean a logical fallacy? Do you have some special knowledge of English, or of logic?

        4. valzi Avatar
          valzi

          As I said, that’s the normal usage/definition. It doesn’t require special knowledge to know that.

          As to special knowledge, here are my qualifications, since you asked:
          1. I’ve read the claim in several textbooks, including Everything Is An Argument (which is a book about rhetoric focusing on argument and logic) and in Norton textbooks on writing.
          2. I teach college English classes, including several standard lessons on logic.

        5. Johnny Rojo Avatar
          Johnny Rojo

          Well, I don’t want to engage in foolish on-line argument, but nowhere do I find that the term “slippery slope” is, by definition a logical fallacy.

          “All men are mortal. Rover is a dog,not a man. Therefore, Rover is not mortal.” That’s a logical fallacy.

        6. valzi Avatar
          valzi

          Search engines are much faster ways to handle this than asking people in a comment thread, so you know, but here are a few definitions of the term:

          http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/slippery-slope.html

          https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/slippery-slope

          http://www.fallacyfiles.org/slipslop.html

          The last one is the most detailed. They’re all correct, though. They all describe MatthewMaurice’s flawed argument.

        7. Johnny Rojo Avatar
          Johnny Rojo

          We are talking two sides of the same thing. The ‘slippery slope’ is a type of argument that is often used fallaciously. But that type of argument is not, per se, fallacious. For example, when discrimination against Jews and other groups in early Nazi Germany was not opposed, it led to the racial purity laws and then led to, at the bottom of that slippery slope of prejudice or racism, the death camps. If you had said something like: “Slippery slope arguments are often fallacious,” I would have agreed with you and we’d not have had this discussion, which actually was a little interesting, at least for me. In any event, we avoided going down the slippery slope from disagreement to argument to ALL CAPS shouting and insults.

          ciao

        8. valzi Avatar
          valzi

          Excellent reply and good points! I disagree and would say that despite Nazi Germany’s slip down a slope, it would have still been fallacious to argue *ahead* of time that the slope had to be slipped upon.

        9. Johnny Rojo Avatar
          Johnny Rojo

          I concede that it is also true that slippery slopes are more visible in hindsight.

  • Michael Chastain Avatar
    Michael Chastain

    That’s ludicrous. A patent wouldn’t force their photogs to shoot in a certain way, and at any rate that’s a matter that’s addressed by a best practices document.

    Assuming I’m not missing something that’s actually innovative in this patent, the only charitable reasoning behind it would be they were trying to prevent anybody else from patenting it and using it against them; of course that only holds true if they don’t use it against anybody else.

  • ext237 Avatar
    ext237

    Sorry brian: You don’t use the arduous and expensive patent process to document corporate branding strategy. You document that with a Corporate Branding Strategy Document.

  • Harry Steelman Avatar
    Harry Steelman

    Patent number has been issued, but with the large amount of prior art and published material it may not fly, but if not challenged who knows what our highly efficient government may do?

  • Harry Steelman Avatar
    Harry Steelman

    Patent number has been issued, but with the large amount of prior art and published material it may not fly, but if not challenged who knows what our highly efficient government may do?

  • dave Avatar
    dave

    Fortunately it won’t affect me. I always shoot with an ISO of around 319.
    How can you patent such approximations?

    1. Patrick Terrence Robinson Avatar
      Patrick Terrence Robinson

      OMG!!!! THAT IS FUNNY!!! ISO OF 319!!!! I’m dyin’ here!!! lol

    2. Mike D Avatar
      Mike D

      Be glad they didn’t patent ranges…

      1. CaptBill Avatar
        CaptBill

        WAIT – – What??? They are trying to patent stoves too?

  • VitaminCM Avatar
    VitaminCM

    I’m thinking of patenting a pose for photos. Position two people very closely together and have them smile. Then, take the photo.
    You better not try it or I’ll sue your ass.

    1. Marlon Ribunal Avatar
      Marlon Ribunal

      My patent on how one make the subject say “cheese” to make him smile is already pending. I just need my attorneys to work on the wording of the claim. Obviously, terms used in geometry will help a lot in this regard.

    2. CiaranMacAoidh Avatar
      CiaranMacAoidh

      If you patent The Duckface you could happily sue people til the day you die.

  • Bob Simmons Avatar
    Bob Simmons

    Following in the footsteps of Apple who successfully patented the shape of an icon.

  • Bob Simmons Avatar
    Bob Simmons

    Following in the footsteps of Apple who successfully patented the shape of an icon.

  • John Wylie Jr Avatar
    John Wylie Jr

    Shoot against grey ….use much light , it becomes white , patent avoided :)

    1. Reed Jessen Avatar
      Reed Jessen

      use F-Stop value of 5.8, patent avoided.

      1. Tree Avatar
        Tree

        Read it again, it expressly states that listed values should not be confused as absolute and thata reasonable range of all numbers provided should be assumed. That’s some serious bullshit right there.

  • Patrick Terrence Robinson Avatar
    Patrick Terrence Robinson

    GAD DAMMIT! I’m gonna patent the way light falls from the sun!!! LOL

    1. Jim Macias Avatar
      Jim Macias

      I trademarked the alphabet. Everyone here owes me money.

      1. Patrick Terrence Robinson Avatar
        Patrick Terrence Robinson

        DAMN YOU JIM! How much do I owe you? LOL

      2. Mrui Avatar
        Mrui

        ノ プレブェム

        1. Jim Macias Avatar
          Jim Macias

          あい あるそ とれどまーこ ざ じゃぱにず あるふぁべと。かたかな あんど ひらがな。(w)

  • Jason Avatar
    Jason

    Looking forward to help bust it on Ask Patents, http://patents.stackexchange.com, one of the best places to help the USPTO shoot down stupid patents.

  • Justin Akard Avatar
    Justin Akard

    wut the Fuk ever.

  • anna Avatar
    anna

    Im going to patent all letters of alphabet and dont you dare to use them again!! :)

  • ext237 Avatar
    ext237

    Well, if this holds up, it means we photogs can’t copy Apple’s lighting style anymore!

  • Jim Bernardi Avatar
    Jim Bernardi

    I’m going to patent the nude. I’m also going to completely ignore this.

  • Rafael Marquez Avatar
    Rafael Marquez

    This just tells me that it’s amazing the sort of things that you can patent. Doesn’t someone own the patent for the color blue? It reminds me of an old suit between AOL and I think Sony Pictures over the movie “You’ve got mail.” I recall the argument boiled down to not being able to express the concept of having mail without using the words “you,” “have” and “mail” or some such thing. Which reminds me, I need to file that patent for photographing on a black seemless blackground at ISO 200, using a 70-200mm lens.

  • Ron Clifford Avatar
    Ron Clifford

    It’s not that this is un enforceable and ridiculous. It’s the beginning of a much bigger problem. this is a patent on a lighting technique, it’s what follows that is VERY VERY important. Start with the ridiculous and move up, via legal prescident to the tangible

  • Vicki Trusselli Avatar
    Vicki Trusselli

    this is ludicrous and pure fascism.

    1. bill Avatar
      bill

      Yes. It is exactly that. When fascism is wattered down to the point where it looks like my piss after drinking a pot of water. When fascism is trivialized and debased so that we can forget the nazis, and Mussolini, when we wish to forget absolutely everything that the word means and make it equal to Jeff Bezos getting a potentially valid but worthless patent. Pure fascism. We are all doomed.

  • Reed Jessen Avatar
    Reed Jessen

    I think you don’t really understand how to read a patent. You are reading it somewhat backwards.

    They are not patenting all of the things listed in the claims. They are patenting the combination of all the things together at the same time. Every element of the claim must be present in order to infringe the patent. The more words in the claims, the more narrow the patent is. This claim is very long and very narrow.

    They are patenting the specific arrangement of the specific camera with the specific dimensions, and specific aspect ratio. For example, to not infringe this patent you simply need to use a F-stop value of 6 instead of 5.6 as they specify in the claims.

    I actually think this is a pretty shit patent.

    1. The_Magic_M Avatar
      The_Magic_M

      > For example, to not infringe this patent you simply need to use a F-stop value of 6 instead of 5.6 as they specify in the claims.

      … or to switch the lights on in a different order. ;)

    2. Brian Owens Avatar
      Brian Owens

      “…to not infringe this patent you simply need to use a F-stop value of 6 instead of 5.6 as they specify in the claims.”
      Except that f/6 isn’t a common choice on most cameras. The standard f-stops are 1, 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, etc.

      1. Reed Jessen Avatar
        Reed Jessen

        so use 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, or 8, or 16, or 22, etc. They didn’t claim those and therefore have no right over their use in this context.

        The point is: they specifically claimed an F-stop setting so they NOT claiming all the setting all the other settings.

        1. Brian Owens Avatar
          Brian Owens

          But what if f/5.6 is the best choice for the particular subject?

          Amazon didn’t invent the lens aperture, they didn’t invent white seamless, they didn’t invent on-axis lighting…they didn’t invent and aren’t the first to use anything they’ve declared in this ludicrous patent.

          Maybe they did it to protect themselves against out-of-control patent trolls who might try to patent the method Amazon commonly uses, and then embroil Amazon in an extortion-by-lawsuit battle, but for the Patent Office to even issue a patent on this to anyone shows how stupid bureaucrats can be.

          1. Reed Jessen Avatar
            Reed Jessen

            I don’t think you really understand how patent claims work. This might help:
            http://www.driesengineering.com/Assets/Interpreting%20patent%20claims.pdf

            They didn’t invent any of the parts of the claimed subject matter, granted. They did however invent the unique combination of EVERY element of the claim in a way that is novel and unobvious. If you can prove otherwise, the patent is invalid and the United States Patent and Trademark Office would love to hear from you.

            Please keep in mind that EVERY SINGLE ELEMENT of the claim must be present for infringement to be found. If you just just 99% but not last 1%, you are not infringing. If you realize this, you will see that this is a very narrow patent.

          2. Brian Owens Avatar
            Brian Owens

            “They did however invent the unique combination of EVERY element of the claim in a way that is novel and unobvious.”

            You’ve never worked in a studio, I take it. Novel? Not obvious? Hah!

          3. Reed Jessen Avatar
            Reed Jessen

            Valid Patents in the US are by definition “novel” and “unobvious”. If they are not novel or are obvious, they are not valid.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_35_of_the_United_States_Code#Patentability

            I challenge you to find the unique combination of elements presented in the patent in any publication written before November 9, 2011 (the priority date of the patent). If can be from any publication on earth in any language. Find it, and you win. The USPTO tried for 3 years and didn’t find anything.

          4. Brian Owens Avatar
            Brian Owens

            You’re completely missing the point; you’re talking like a lawyer, not a photographer. The fact that the “exact” combination listed hasn’t been put in print doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been done, nor that there is something unique and novel about the general principles involved.

            If it’s such a “very narrow” patent, as you say, then what’s the point? This isn’t about the specifics of the patent; it’s about the principle. Granting a patent for something like this is just wrong. Period.

          5. bill Avatar
            bill

            It is a patent on photography. In order to say anything meaningful you must talk a bit like both – otherwise you will stumble around looking foolish to the informed.

            How can you possibly say that granting this patent is “wrong. Period” if you are unwilling to engage in a discussion of what the patent actually claims and how patents work? Thats a bit like me insisting that shooting at 5.6 is essentially the same as shooting at 2.0 – I mean 2.0 and 5.6 are close numerically right?

  • bill Avatar
    bill

    Brian – you are right, they didn’t invent any of those elements. And they do not claim to have. Thats not required of a patent and never has been. The claimed to have invented the combination of all of the element found in claim 1 when used together in the way described.

    if f/5.6 happens to be the best choice for a particular subject that means that Amazon may in fact have come up with a new, innovative and *useful* idea – and thus though extremely narrow it may not be nearly as worthless as many of us (well, me at least) seem to think it is even if it is valid.

  • Brian Owens Avatar
    Brian Owens

    “if f/5.6 happens to be the best choice for a particular subject that means that Amazon may in fact have come up with a new, innovative and *useful* idea”
    That makes no sense whatsoever. If f/5.6 is the best choice for a particular subject that I am shooting, or have shot in the past, how does that mean that Amazon came up with something new? You’re displaying a lack of logic.

  • Reed Jessen Avatar
    Reed Jessen

    Brian, What should be patented?

  • Brian Owens Avatar
    Brian Owens

    Things that are TRUELY unique and novel. Stringing together parts or processes in a way that leads to something that hasn’t been seen before would be an example. This is not that; shooting against a white BG using a key light above the camera axis with subject lighting shielded from causing flare by the use of flags, and using BG lights behind the subject stage where they won’t cast shadows is not new. If Amazon’s exact process down to the exact lens, aperture, ISO setting, etc. is patentable, then why shouldn’t every photographer who ever shoots against a white BG be given a patent for their exact implementation? The permutations are almost infinite, and the Patent Office would have to hire a full-time staff to do nothing else.

  • Reed Jessen Avatar
    Reed Jessen

    The USPTO has over 10,000 employee validating patents on a full-time basis. There is a very well established system for determining the uniqueness and novelness of a patent stretching back over 200 years. The examiners at the USPTO are the most qualified people on earth to determine whether a patent is “TRUELY unique and novel”. We are not.

    ” If Amazon’s exact process down to the exact lens, aperture, ISO setting, etc. is patentable, then why shouldn’t every photographer who ever shoots against a white BG be given a patent for their exact implementation?”

    Because ZERO people did the exact method contained in the claims prior to November 9, 2011. If you can prove otherwise, the patent would be invalid.

  • Brian Owens Avatar
    Brian Owens

    Read again what I wrote. Let me rephrase it: Amazon got a patent for shooting with an 85mm lens at f/5.6, so why couldn’t I be given a patent for shooting with a 50mm lens at f/4, and you be given one for using a 35mm lens at f/8?
    Let me give another example: Anova developed a cooking device called an immersion circulator. Their implementation was unique enough compared to PolyScience’s version that they were granted a patent (or one is pending). All well and good. Now, let’s say I use the Anova device to make sous vide filet mignon, cooking it at 134.5 degrees for 58 minutes and 12 seconds. Should I be granted a patent because no one else has ever written about doing it that way? Existing cookbooks all talk about cooking it at, say, 135 degrees for 1 hour, so my steak is — by the Amazon model — unique and novel. Right? Wrong! It’s a medium rare steak!

  • bill Avatar
    bill

    Not really – I was typing too casually. If that full combination is in fact useful – not just the f/5.6 but the full combination – and there is something magic about 5.6 that makes it particularly attractive compared to other options – and for some reason nobody has used that full combination of all the element – then they have created a useful new idea – the premise is that you have not shot with all of those elements combined in the past. If the hypothetical fails because in real life you have – then the patent is invalid and worthless.

  • Andrew Odie Avatar
    Andrew Odie

    The Patent is not specific as to f stop etc it states:
    “It should be noted that angles, dimensions, distances, settings,
    parameters, and other numerical data may or may not be expressed herein
    in a range format. It is to be understood that the numerical data is
    presented herein and used for
    convenience and brevity, and thus, should be interpreted in a flexible
    manner to include not only the numerical values explicitly recited as
    the only workable parameters, but also to include all the individual
    numerical values that can be employed in a
    studio arrangement 100 to achieve the desired effect discussed herein.”

  • Joanne Avatar
    Joanne

    So you are sure that an f-stop of 6 does not qualify as an f-stop of ‘about 5.6?’
    can someone give us a definition of the very specific legal term “about’?

  • Eve LeCrosse Avatar
    Eve LeCrosse

    I’m going to patent the word “patent.”

  • Michael Holzinger Avatar
    Michael Holzinger

    I Just Laughing ….

  • Gallen_Dugall Avatar
    Gallen_Dugall

    Once upon a time artistic processes could not be patented. I fully expect a patent on books with 90,000-120,000 words in them and an accompanying copyright of the word “novel”

    1. bill Avatar
      bill

      A process for manufacturing an article, e.g. a photograph, has been patentable in the US since patents (which are in the constitution) have existed. Similarly design patent, which arguably contain artistic elements in some/many cases, have been patentable for a long time as well.

  • James Avatar
    James

    They are probably sticking it to a shooter who used these exact parameters in doing work for them.

  • d.free Avatar
    d.free

    I don’t think that you can even register a patent for something that already exists!

    1. bill Avatar
      bill

      In principle you cannot thought it happens by mistake from time to time and technology can be rather complex. Do you have an example of somebody doing what is described in the claims prior to when the patent was filed? If so it will be trivial, and cheap, to have the patent invalidated.

  • InsideSource Avatar
    InsideSource

    Oh my, a tech writer up in arms on a hobby-horse of a subject about which he or she knows nothing about. The operative part of a patent are the claims, and these are very narrow. If you don’t have every single one of these features you do not infringe. Take a deep breath, because it’s long:

    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 light source 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 reflects light 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.

    Signed, a patent atty without a dog in this fight.

    1. Charliemopps Avatar
      Charliemopps

      Patent Attorney? I never thought there’d be a profession bellow “Attorney”… wow… To graduate did they make you strange kittens or stomp on puppies?

      1. bill Avatar
        bill

        I know – its rather amazing when you run into something outside of your area of expertise and learn something new isn’t it? Next time try not to react to it by being such a bore. If you want to insult your new friend at least make the effort to be amusing.

        1. Janet Rafferty Avatar
          Janet Rafferty

          ^ :)

          1. @Neuralculture Avatar
            @Neuralculture

            Claim is obvious, only an incredibly narrow interpretation of patent law (that has been thrown out by the Supreme Court before) allows for this to be non-obvious, in the sense that no one bothered to right down “Picz R Gudder wit Lights an ah White Sheet” in a scholary peer-reviewed paper or tech journal. Will not hold up.

            Silly business.

      2. Dave Saunders Avatar
        Dave Saunders

        Feel free to take a Patent Bar and see how that goes for ya.

    2. FreeLuncheon Avatar
      FreeLuncheon

      I haven’t read a patent in years, but it looks like claim 2 is also an independent claim and much broader.