Profoto threatens to sue Godox for patent infringement claiming they stole the A1 design

Mar 14, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Profoto threatens to sue Godox for patent infringement claiming they stole the A1 design

Mar 14, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Launched in 2017, the $1,000 Profoto A1 was a pretty unique design amongst speedlights. Finally, the world had a round head speedlight – something that many photographers had been asking for, for at least the last couple of decades. Now, Godox is getting ready to start shipping their new V1 round head speedlight, launched at Photokina 2018. But Profoto calls foul play.

According to Fotosidan, Profoto is accusing Godox of intellectual property theft, specifically patent infringement, with the design of the Profoto A1. And they’re threatening to sue if Godox doesn’t pull the unit immediately.

Fotosidan says that it took Profoto four years to develop the A1 round head speedlight, and has pending patents for the round magnetic mount used to attach accessories. It says they also have seven patents for the design and seven design protections for the A1 – and they’re accusing Godox of violating those.

We spend a lot of time and money on development and will protect our investments. We have designed a light head that gives a nice light unlike other manufacturers who optimized the exposure within the image surface. In addition to marketing, we also put resources into developing the market. We have not only ripped the way for Godox, but plowed and paved and plastered with toothbrush so that it is smooth for them,

 – Anders Hedebark, Profoto CEO

When you look at the units side-by-side, they are remarkably similar in a number of ways, particularly the side profile of the head. But then, if you look at any rectangular headed speedlights, they also all pretty much look the same as each other, too.

The report on Fotosidan goes even further to say that manufacturers and importers looking to market or sell the Godox V1 risk being caught up in the legal action, too.

It will be interesting to see what happens, and unfortunate if Godox is forced to withdraw the V1.

I don’t think that the kinds of photographers who are willing to spend $1,000 on a speedlight are even going to consider the Godox V1 as an alternative because they’ll have already bought into the whole Profoto system and it won’t be compatible. And those looking to buy a V1 aren’t typically going to randomly spend $1,000 on a Profoto A1 speedlight to add to their incompatible Godox kit, either. Those who are considering switching from one system to the other also aren’t going to be swayed by whether a round head speedlight exists or not.

But, this could still get quite ugly if Godox thinks they can demonstrate that they didn’t just copy the A1 and Profoto doesn’t decide to drop it.

Fotosidan also reports that Profoto is establishing an office in China, with one task being to “monitor what is happening in the Chinese photo industry”.

Do you think it’s a straight up copy? Or just a function of a head of this shape?

[via Fotosidan]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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35 responses to “Profoto threatens to sue Godox for patent infringement claiming they stole the A1 design”

  1. Roland van Bezouw Avatar
    Roland van Bezouw

    Profoto was not the pioneer who “invented” a round-shaped head on a speedlight. For example: Falcon Eyes released the SG-100BK around 2013; https://www.lightingrumours.com/falcon-eyes-sg-100bk-big-flash-little-price-4169

    1. Huge Dom Avatar
      Huge Dom

      Godox also made the circular AD360II-C which came out before the A1… https://www.lightingrumours.com/godox-witstro-ad360ii-c-7649

      1. Roland van Bezouw Avatar
        Roland van Bezouw

        Thanks for proving my point. So what is Profoto bitching about? They didn’t create a new grail on behalf on speedlight-innovation.

        1. Bokehmon22 Avatar
          Bokehmon22

          Didn’t Godox use lithium battery before Protofoto too?

        2. Jason Bonello Avatar
          Jason Bonello

          The AD360 is a knock off of Quantum Q Flash

        3. kinkinhood Avatar
          kinkinhood

          Likely they are losing some market to godox and are not happy

    2. Hahaha Avatar
      Hahaha

      We dont know that. Zeiss won against Samyang before just because of design similarity. And Falcon one is not even close to Profoto A1. It’s not just about the round head. It’s about specific design.

      1. ReneK Avatar
        ReneK

        Did they? Never heard about the outcome of that case and one can still buy the Samyang XP 85 and 50 1.2.

  2. Chris Brock Avatar
    Chris Brock

    “Wow… A round light… So innovative.” ~every flashlight ever

  3. Jason Bonello Avatar
    Jason Bonello

    Godox for sure knocks off other companies especially Profoto. It’s like McDonalds vs Mc Dowells in Coming to America.

  4. Hans Van Avatar
    Hans Van

    well its not a true copy from what I can see, secondly people in the word have to learn that as soon as you bring out a new item, what ever it is, China will have a cheaper copy of the same item with in 6 – 12 months. That is the world we live in today,
    patent now means nothing any more not like 20 years ago

    1. Nathan Tsukroff Avatar
      Nathan Tsukroff

      Patent means everything. But a US patent does not apply in China. The patent can be enforced if a Chinese companies markets a stolen design in the US. It’s up to the original designer to file the lawsuit, however. Quantum Flash has not bothered to pursue the clear ripoff by Godox in creating the 360 strobe units, so Godox continues to market those units.

  5. Justin Barr Avatar
    Justin Barr

    Someone’s butthurt because the curtain has been pulled back on over priced gear.

    1. Jason Vaughan Avatar
      Jason Vaughan

      Never a Truer statement there

  6. mary Avatar
    mary

    Oh well

  7. Robbie Keene Avatar
    Robbie Keene

    So…Profoto doesn’t want someone to make a $200 version of their $1000 flash? Can you patent a circle?

    1. Marko Avatar
      Marko

      Apple invented the rounded corners :-)

  8. Joe De Diego Avatar
    Joe De Diego

    The profoto flash is just a copy of an even older design

  9. Del Robertson Somerville Avatar
    Del Robertson Somerville

    It will be interesting to see if one godox battery can last a whole wedding from 8:00 morning till 23:00 at night and still retain adequate battery power.

    1. Sylvain Clement Avatar
      Sylvain Clement

      Del Robertson Somerville I used a Godox flash for weddings, and yes one battery is enough for a full wedding. At least 600 or 700 shots capacity
      Let me know if you shoot every single picture with flash ?? I hope not.
      But whatever, you must have a second one (as any other gear in fact)

    2. Del Robertson Somerville Avatar
      Del Robertson Somerville

      Sylvain Clement I have two, but I have two cameras. That’s great, good performer then. I hate the light quality the godox produces. Just down to preference though.

    3. Brian Lovelace Avatar
      Brian Lovelace

      Yeah I have yet to kill one of my 7 godox flashes at a wedding lol. I always leave only one bar down ???

    4. Del Robertson Somerville Avatar
      Del Robertson Somerville

      That’s a lot of flashes lol I use my a1’s alongside my b2 twin kit and my b10. It’s all personal preference though, as the Godox stuff feels really cheap to me.

      1. Jason Vaughan Avatar
        Jason Vaughan

        “feels really cheap”? My godox (rebranded as Pixapro) feel anything but cheap to me. they are strong work horse in my kit bag and have served me well with VERY heavy duty use for several years. “Feels cheap” is a very relative term and about as scientific technical and practical as saying “I have a gut feeling” how ever they “feel” I go by what I find and what works. I sold all my Bowens studio lights and all my canon speed lights, I was looking at profoto B1’s and the air remote but they just ………….. FEEL way over priced to me. Oh and my AD600 battery life lasts longer I believe but as I saved a ton I wouldn’t know as I never got the Profoto.

    5. Nathan Tsukroff Avatar
      Nathan Tsukroff

      Profoto has US patents. Therefore, Profoto has the right and obligation to protect its designs and technology from copying here in the US. Generally, a device needs to have seven distinct differences to consider it unique and not a copy. That will be a high bar for Godox to meet.

  10. Bartosch Salmanski Avatar
    Bartosch Salmanski

    Nope, they first knocked of the Quantum QFlash (AD360). After that it’s like every product Profoto made was knocked off by them :D

    The only innovative thing from Godox was the AD200 imo. And it wasn’t chinese innovation, but a jointventure with some people from the US market that guided them to make this kind of products :)

    1. Mark Helm Avatar
      Mark Helm

      Bartosch Salmanski uhmm godox made the 360 first and the rest is all their own too if anything it’s a typical case of big boy trying to kill off competition by twisting the truth godox should counter sue on same grounds

      1. Nathan Tsukroff Avatar
        Nathan Tsukroff

        No. The Quantum QFlash was first designed and released by Quantum Flash in Hauppauge, NY, in 1992 as the T model, followed shortly by the T2.

        Godox is directly ripping off US designs. This is standard practice for Chinese companies, since US patents don’t apply in China.

        1. Jay Avatar
          Jay

          Profoto isn’t a US company though. They are Swedish. Not sure if they filed patents here though.

  11. Mike Duffy Avatar
    Mike Duffy

    I seem to remember an underwater flash with a round head design? Was it Nikonos?? From a looong time back :)

  12. g_discus Avatar
    g_discus

    Godox will sell it in China and on Chinese online stores.

    1. Marko Avatar
      Marko

      And hopefully in Canada. We can always order online anyway. AliExpress will have them.

      1. g_discus Avatar
        g_discus

        Sure!

  13. Mark Helm Avatar
    Mark Helm

    Godox had a round strobe long before profoto called the 360

  14. Paul Tobeck Avatar
    Paul Tobeck

    It’s an iterative design, just like every other manufacturer in every other industry does. It’s not like Godox copied their fresnel pattern, or paid under the table to get copies of the housing molds Profoto’s manufacturer uses.
    It’s a case of “it looks too much like ours” which is subjective and open to interpretation. How many different ways can you make a round headed speedlight? If this were the basis of every patent/design dispute, then every car manufacturer should be suing every other car manufacturer because every single car/SUV hybrid looks exactly the same without the branding.