Amazon is patenting a studio lighting setup!

Discussion in 'Industry News' started by analoguey, May 6, 2014.

  1. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Anyone seen this? Amazon is apparently trying to patent studio lighting setups! Here's a little part of the claims its filed : Amazon_patent_studio.jpg
     
  2. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    "...the longtitudinal axis further being substantially perpendicular to a surface..."
    Wow.
    I've read a lot of patents that made no sense (and not many that do), and always presumed that the reason they made nonsense was because they were online-translated from Japanese.
    But when I did my Engineering degree (or even back at highschool), we learnt what Perpendicular meant. As far as I recall, perpendicularity is absolute, either it is or it isn't. I've never heard of something being "substantially" perpendicular, more perpendicular than the other perpendicular things...
     
  3. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Hahaha, hadnt noticed that.
    Still, the audacity of filing a patent for lighting set-up!

    Sent from Tap-a-talk
     
  4. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    This is a purely defensive patent which will probably never interfere with anything we do in a studio. Nothing to see here, please move on ...

    Some background here:

    If you don't do exactly what is claimed, you don't violate the patent. Now let's take a brief look at the first claim: unless you use an 85mm lens, shot with an ISO setting of 320 and with an aperture setting of F/5.6, that's patent won't touch your work. And you need to shoot with a very specific light setup and with a very specific background, and yes, that background is not planar or arbitrarily shaped, but a cyclorama. Anyone here does exactly this? Crickets .... thought so.

    The second claim is less specific about camera settings, but very, very specific about the lighting setup. And it, again, requires that you use a cyclorama as background. Anyone here does this exactly like described? Didn't think so. Claims 3-24 are tighter specifications of claim 2, in case someone can get a patent court to throw out claim 2 due to prior art or whatever.

    Claim 25 is extremely generic and non-novel, there must be tons of prior art after over hundred years of studio photography that the examiner should have been aware of. No idea how that claim 25 went past the examiner(s), but IIRC, I am not the first one to scratch my head about the patents being accepted by the USPTO.
     
  5. AgX

    AgX Member

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    And what is the novelty or technical depth of the other claims?
     
  6. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Ugh its ridiculous, can you even imagine what other patents may be submitted if this goes through?
     
  7. rorye

    rorye Subscriber

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    I've shot in the Amazon studio, it's a lot like many other large volume set ups, shooting with an even light as consistently as possible.
    I bucked the rules, went out on a limb at used f8.
     
  8. yurisrey

    yurisrey Member

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    After googling for more info I found this article:
    http://www.photographybay.com/2014/...dio-photography-on-seamless-white-background/

    I love the author's comment: "[sarcasm] Because no photographer prior to Amazon’s filing on November 9, 2011 ever achieved a seamless white background without post processing or “green screen” techniques… [/sarcasm]"

    As a conclusion, here's a still from THX1138 (1971) :smile:
     

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  9. omaha

    omaha Member

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    "Prior art"
     
  10. TimFox

    TimFox Member

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    No patent attorney would ever claim "precisely perpendicular" or "perpendicular", since another could avoid the patent by setting the angle to 89.9 degrees.
    Similarly, patents usually use "substantially equal" or other wordings to avoid claims that are mathematically proper but impracticable.
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    :laugh:
     
  12. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I looked at the examination paper trail and it seems like the examination was pretty cursory. I'm not much on studio lighting, but it seems like there should be a lot of relevant prior art from the dead-tree medium, doesn't it? Even with the restriction to the use of a white cyclorama, there's plenty of history of attempts to create seamless background lighting.

    IMHO, it's a pretty low-quality patent and mainly a thicket builder.

    -NT
     
  13. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    Where have you been? :smile:

    http://www.google.com/patents/US6360693

    The patent office issued a patent for an artificial stick (although I think this was later invalidated.)
     
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  15. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Bezos is a Patent Troll. A patent that offers nothing of value other than to lawyers.
     
  16. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I have seen one for a method of combing over your hair to hide baldness!


    Steve.
     
  17. Firestarter

    Firestarter Member

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    What a waste of time, money and effort.

    Anyway I doubt Amazon will be using Tri X or FP4 for their product shots :munch:
     
  18. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    My personal favorite patent is the famous "Method of Exercising a Cat" (US 5,443,036). It's expired now, so you can exercise your cat without legal concerns!

    For the last year or so my day job has been patent-centric, and it's a fascinating and weird world. A casual reading of a patent won't usually tell you much about its coverage or quality---in the legal universe, patents are applied by micro-parsing the exact wording of the claim, and huge legal battles end up coming down to the interpretation of individual words. In the unlikely event that this Amazon patent were ever to be litigated, I can imagine terrific arguments over exactly what is and isn't properly described as a "white cyclorama", for example.

    Many patents---including this one, I think---are never intended for litigation; they're for intimidation value, for building what in the business is called a "thicket" for defensive purposes (even a bad patent costs money to argue against, and if there are enough patents, it's an expensive pain just to sort through them for quality; cheaper and easier to settle on a licensing agreement), and frankly, sometimes they happen because no one has the nerve to tell some egotistical senior manager "your patent is stupid".

    I don't know a lot about the online retail world, but it seems like there are ongoing low-level knife fights about various business-method and presentation-method patents, and this one kind of looks like it's a thicket-builder for use in those internecine battles.

    -NT
     
  19. AgX

    AgX Member

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    But still such a patent has to be approved of by the respective national authority.
     
  20. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    My take on this is that the patent registry in the US is essentially a notice registry, much like our Personal Property Security registry here in BC.

    The patent registry officials evaluate the patent claim mostly on whether the form of the claim meets their requirements, not whether the substance of the claim validly constitutes something that is patentable.
     
  21. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I'm guilty in participating in a Yogic copyright troll. I do Bikram hot yoga once a week. Bikram Choudry copyrighted a sequences of poses. He makes tons of money from his copyright and sues studio for teaching Bikram Yoga without licensing his poses. Yoga studios that teaches Bikram Yoga has to pay Bikram royalties for every student that pays for a class. But yoga has been around for thousands of years. Also, researchers are patenting human gene just by discovering the function of the gene. There's something wrong here.
     
  22. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Well, they're supposed to examine for the latter too---the usual standard is "novel and inventive", meaning that not only is it strictly new, but getting from the prior art to your invention requires some nonobvious inventive step. The catch is that everyone's definition of "obvious" is different, so there's some intrinsic subjectivity.

    There's quite a lot of variation between different patent examinations; sometimes the examiner really digs in their heels and makes the applicant argue for inventiveness, and sometimes they, well, don't. As an applicant I actually prefer the former kind, because by the time you get the claims sorted out to where a tough examiner will allow them, you have not just a patent but a *good* patent.

    Other jurisdictions vary. Korea tends to be quick and more administrative, China can be very tough, and so on.

    -NT
     
  23. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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  24. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    From what I understand the point of patents is to encourage innovation. At least the rhetoric is.
    I would much rather live in a patent-less world then.

    I will definitely vote with my wallet in such cases.

    Why doesnt the patent office outsource at least the fact checking or have professionals give their opinions on such things?
    Wouldnt that be a good thing to CYA?
     
  25. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    That patent was particularly sneaky because the first two major claims were extremely specific, and the subclaims of claim 2 even more so. Then, after all that drivel, out pops claim 25 which patents everything and its grandma. The patent examiner may well have fallen asleep a few claims before, there is no other explanation how this could slip through.
     
  26. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Would you want potential competitors of yours getting access to your filings before they were legally enforceable? It wouldn't be hard if you outsourced something like this for companies to pay bribes to the contract examiners to send them notifications and/or copies of the filings, and then if they were interested, an additional fee would be supplied to get the examiner to stall the process until the competitor could file their own claim. Besides, that's what the patent examiners are getting paid for in the first place.