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USPTO Approves Amazon Patent For Taking Pictures 152

An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Patent Office granted Amazon a patent in March that basically describes taking a picture with a white background. Amazon claims that their method is unique to current photography methods because they can achieve the effect of a true white background without retouching the photo or using any sort of post-processing technique. Some professional photographers disagree, claiming that plenty of prior art exists embodying Amazon's described method and furthermore that this pre-existing method is what the photography industry calls 'shooting against a seamless white backdrop.'"
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USPTO Approves Amazon Patent For Taking Pictures

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  • by thedonger ( 1317951 ) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @05:51PM (#46954035)
    I don't care if no one in history prior to know has taken a photo of someone with a white sheet behind them. Is that really worthy of a patent?
  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @06:09PM (#46954161)
    Great, but in practice, someone who does the same (and has done for 100 years) will be sued 5 years from now, though their setup doesn't include the elevated platform.

    So it wasn't "prior art" because it didn't have the elevated platform, but is actionable because it's close enough to be infringing.

    There's nothing wrong with patents. There's just something wrong with obvious ones. White cycloramas are common. Elevated platforms is common. Multiple light sources is common. Geometry is common. If they are patenting that *exact* combination of those common and non-novel devices, then they should also be banned from going after the guy doing the same thing with 6 lights, or any other geometry.
  • by harvestsun ( 2948641 ) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @06:21PM (#46954255)
    This is NOT a big deal. The patent is very specific, to the point where it would be almost impossible to infringe (and equally difficult to find prior art). They didn't patent "take a picture with a white background.". They patented having a studio arrangement with a background comprising a white cyclorama, captured with an 85mm lens, configured with an ISO settings of 320 and f-stop value of 5.6, with an elevated platform positioned between the platform and background, with front and rear light sources in the longitudinal axis... and it goes on for several pages.

    There is NO WAY anyone will be hurt by this patent. It's business as usual. I know you guys love getting mad at big companies, but cool it, you just look silly.
  • by Frobnicator ( 565869 ) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @11:16PM (#46956055) Journal

    Actually, Amazon claims it was for defensive purposes only.

    They noticed that there was very little prior art and they used the process for a huge number of photos on their site. Amazon claims they were concerned that a patent troll would get a patent and then sue Amazon.

    In some ways that is a good thing. If their patent was denied for prior art, then it means the patent system (or at least one clerk) understood that there was prior art, and Amazon could have said "We tried to patent it, USPTO denied it, so the troll's patent is invalid."

    Instead, since the patent came through, it means the USPTO could have just as easily given the patent to a troll, so it was a hopefully correct action to prevent them from fighting a patent battle later.

    Time will tell, but considering the nature of how Amazon has been using its patents, this is probably fairly safe.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."