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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography
Thread started 23 Aug 2014 (Saturday) 09:38
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Article: patent troll sues photographer for infringement on patent for workflow

 
losangelino
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Joined Jul 2012
Aug 23, 2014 09:38 |  #1

Here are two articles about an on going lawsuit that might be relevant to some sports photog here. Apparently a company has patented a standard digitizing work flow for sports photography. They're suing a photog for infringement.

http://www.diyphotogra​phy.net ...helpful-for-our-industry/external link

https://www.eff.org ...oll-more-just-bridge-tollexternal link

Here is claim one from U.S. Patent 6,985,875:

1. A process providing event photographs of a sporting event for inspection, selection and distribution via a computer network, comprising the steps of:

taking photographs of at least one participant of a sporting event along at least one point of a course or field thereof;

associating identifying data with each photograph taken, wherein the identifying data is selected from at least one of: a number corresponding to a number worn by a participant, a participant's name, a code acquired from a component worn by a participant, and a date and time, including hour and minute the photograph was taken;

informing the sporting participants of the identifying data;

transferring the photographs to a computer network server;

cataloging each of the photographs in a web-site server according to the identifying data;

accessing the server at a location other than the sporting event and searching for a photograph of a particular sporting event participant utilizing the identifying data; and

displaying the photograph of the sporting event participant for inspection and ordering.

In plain English: Take photos of a race, tag and sort by bib number and date, and search for photos based on that tag via the Internet. That’s it.



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golfecho
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Aug 23, 2014 10:35 |  #2

Absurd. It's like patenting the process of using a motor vehicle to go from one place to another while sitting in the most forward, left side seat. How can you patent a common process?

I understand that using the "bib number" is different than using the "car number" at a NASCAR race, but come on, using the racer's number to identify a subject is unique? That would be like taking landscape or other possible stock images, and listing them under the dominant color in the image, and searching on color.

I sure hope this whole patent gets reviewed and thrown out.


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gjl711
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Aug 23, 2014 11:18 |  #3

Just looked up the patent so sure enough, the patent office issued Peter a patent.
http://pdfpiw.uspto.go​v ...ONE&Input=View+firs​t+pageexternal link


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seanlockephotography
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Aug 23, 2014 11:45 |  #4

This issue with this patent is nothing new : https://www.google.com​/search?q=photocrazy+p​atentexternal link




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groundloop
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Aug 23, 2014 12:53 |  #5

I certainly hope that some photographer, or a group of photographers, will go to the trouble of having that patent invalidated because it was based on 'prior art'. Hell, I don't even make money with photography and I'll pitch in for that.

In the past few years the administration, at the urging of engineers and scientists, has been pushing the patent office to tighten up on just this sort of crap and I doubt if these particular patents would be issued today (this particular patent was applied for in 2000 and issued in 2006). I've heard of several bogus patents along the lines of this one being overturned, so IMO this one would have a good chance of being invalidated if someone is willing to go to the effort (unfortunately it's not cheap).

Edit to add: Out of curiosity I looked up the cost to challenge a patent. The easiest way is to have it re-examined, at a cost of $17,500 per patent. I see that this patent troll has three patents for event photo tagging, so to have 3 patents re-examined would cost over $50,000. Patent trolls like this know that it's not cheap to fight these things in court and plan on people simply paying up a small settlement instead of fighting.




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dkizzle
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Aug 24, 2014 10:06 |  #6

Patent system was a good creation but over time turned into something different. Many of recent patents are ridiculous, including this one. Soon someone will be able to patent the way they walk, the way they dance. I might even apply for a chicken dance patent myself. Next time you are dancing at a wedding I better get some $$$.


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JacobPhoto
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Aug 24, 2014 13:00 |  #7

Didn't Amazon patent the process of taking a photo of a product on a white background, firing a strobe into the background to blow it out and firing a separate light on the subject / product? That's pretty troll-riffic as well


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photoguy6405
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Aug 24, 2014 13:07 |  #8

groundloop wrote in post #17113299external link
I certainly hope that some photographer, or a group of photographers, will go to the trouble of having that patent invalidated because it was based on 'prior art'. Hell, I don't even make money with photography and I'll pitch in for that.

In the past few years the administration, at the urging of engineers and scientists, has been pushing the patent office to tighten up on just this sort of crap and I doubt if these particular patents would be issued today (this particular patent was applied for in 2000 and issued in 2006). I've heard of several bogus patents along the lines of this one being overturned, so IMO this one would have a good chance of being invalidated if someone is willing to go to the effort (unfortunately it's not cheap).

Edit to add: Out of curiosity I looked up the cost to challenge a patent. The easiest way is to have it re-examined, at a cost of $17,500 per patent. I see that this patent troll has three patents for event photo tagging, so to have 3 patents re-examined would cost over $50,000. Patent trolls like this know that it's not cheap to fight these things in court and plan on people simply paying up a small settlement instead of fighting.

Fighting any kind of unjust law, or in this case patent, is cost-prohibitive for most average people. And I believe people do these things knowing that the odds of them ever being challenged are slim precisely for this reason.

In a similar vein I believe that many local and state government knowingly pass questionable laws for the same reason.


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Luckless
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Aug 24, 2014 14:20 |  #9

JacobPhoto wrote in post #17114815external link
Didn't Amazon patent the process of taking a photo of a product on a white background, firing a strobe into the background to blow it out and firing a separate light on the subject / product? That's pretty troll-riffic as well

The difference in Amazon's patent is that it is a specific patent and details things in a rather clearly defined manner which is a little more than just 'blowing out the background'. Now Amazon's patent could be invalidated by prior art, but it also prevents them from being hit by a patent troll, which is the far most likely reason for wanting to patent such a process for them.

This one on the other hand looks horribly general.


The world really needs better anti-patent trolling laws.


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banquetbear
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Aug 24, 2014 15:45 as a reply to Luckless's post |  #10

...just a heads up: Peter Wolf is a member of these forums:

http://photography-on-the.net .../showthread.php?t=1​364562

Just to make sure no-one says something inappropriate (and it is tempting) that would get them into trouble with the mods here.

I think the best way to fight this is to consider supporting Capstone. Picture Crazy has been doing this for years: and bigger companies than Capstone have given up the legal fight and just paid the licencing fee. If people in the US really want this to stop: then the best way would be to actually contribute to the fight. Lots of people have encouraged Capstone to fight this battle. It would be a shame if they fell over in court because they ran out of cash.


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photoguy6405
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Aug 24, 2014 15:50 |  #11

Can I patent how to heat a can of soup? That's how absurd this is becoming, IMO.


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gjl711
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Aug 24, 2014 17:30 |  #12

photoguy6405 wrote in post #17115124external link
Can I patent how to heat a can of soup? That's how absurd this is becoming, IMO.

You can file for a patent on anything you like. Whether it's granted or not is something different. I had always though patents had to be for a device, not a process. There is no invention in this patent.


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Luckless
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Aug 24, 2014 18:22 |  #13

gjl711 wrote in post #17115273external link
You can file for a patent on anything you like. Whether it's granted or not is something different. I had always though patents had to be for a device, not a process. There is no invention in this patent.

Isn't the only requirement for an actual 'device' simply that you can demonstrate the process in operation? So I can't patent a process for cold fusion until I can demonstrate that it works, but once I do then anyone else who creates a device which replicates my process to generate energy from cold fusion would be violating it, even if their device appeared radically different on the surface.


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BamPhoto
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Aug 24, 2014 19:51 |  #14

I guess I need to patent "Pushing the shutter" !


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groundloop
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Aug 24, 2014 21:47 |  #15

gjl711 wrote in post #17115273external link
.... I had always though patents had to be for a device, not a process. There is no invention in this patent.


Actually you most certainly can get a patent for a process. I've dealt with the patent system where I work, myself and a coworker have a patent (assigned to our employer so unfortunately I'm not getting rich off of it). Part of our patent is a unique way to manufacture a particular product.

Also, I read the information on the Fred Miranda website about Peter Wolf's antics at one particular bike race. Apparently he totally circumvented the event organizers, set up his equipment on private property (which caused a lot of friction between the organizers and property owner), and then had the gall to threaten the organizers and official event photographers with an infringement suit.

Edit to add.....

Since I know a little bit about patent language (patent speak) I might take the time to read through those Peter Wolf patents. If by chance I happen to see a different way to sell photos online by bib number that doesn't infringe I'll follow up by posting it in the public domain. I'm not gonna' hold my breath for that though, unfortunately many patents are written to be very broad and as vague as possible so as to stifle competition.




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Article: patent troll sues photographer for infringement on patent for workflow
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