Is Amazon Going To Sue Me?

Is Amazon going to sue me for shooting subjects on a white background? I don’t think so.

“Amazon does not have aAmazonSetUp1
patent to shoot on a
background; rather, the
patent is for the particular
set up in their studio that
involves certain types of lenses,
cameras and lighting,”
~Doug Manchee

Yes; Amazon did win the patent that they have been working towards for a few years now but it’s not simply for shooting on a white background. It’s actually for their particular set up including the positioning of the lights and subject, the types of lenses and cameras used, and [if I understand correctly] even the exact distance between all these items.

I don’t think that Amazon’s patent of a technique that has been around for years and years and years… OK decades… is really going to effect photographers as much as first thought.  After all they didn’t actually invent the technique. Remember their patent is more for their set up. The rest of us simply need to use a different shutter speed than they do, set our lights just a bit further away, grab a different focal length, move the camera slightly – and viola! we’ve invented our own set up for this technique.

I don’t know for sure how this will eventually effect the rest of us but I do agree with Chris Reistroffer who said…

“I hope this doesn’t open up the opportunity for other companies to trademark other common photography methods,”  “If another company puts a patent on a black border or a ’50s style photo against a certain background, it could eventually affect creativity. It’s a dangerous slope.”

and I got a giggle from the folks over at Tech Dirt when they said they would tag this as a #BigFail for the USPTO or #HugeKudos for Amazon’s IP attorneys. Yep; someone over at Amazon was thinking!

If I have it right this is the line buried in those forms that eventually allowed Amazon to get the patent:   “…Claim 3. The studio arrangement of claim 2, wherein the first distance is about 4.5–5.5 times a height of the top surface of the elevated platform….” .  Apparently no one   had written an article with that exact distance ratio or file a patent application about it before so the patent was allowed.

Like I said I don’t know for sure how this will effect the rest of us and I really don’t think Amazon will sue us for shooting on a white background. Or even if they could actually sue.  But if you are a very enthusiastic kind of person and have done your research on the topic and are still worried that the USPTO might have over stepped on this one there is a petition at you could sign. [no I haven’t]

Studio arrangement patent number US 8676045 B1 can be seen here if you’d like to check it out sometime.

In the meantime I shall continue to shoot with my white background in my own way and not worry too terrible much about it. I hope that’s a safe thing to do!

Tech Dirt
ARS Technica


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