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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Photo Companies Sued For Alleged Patent Violation
Brad Mangin, Photographer
Pleasanton | CA | USA | Posted: 11:29 PM on 06.15.07
->> Good evening everybody. This situation has been discussed here in the message boards in the past. Now the patent holder has filed a lawsuit.

From the Southeast Texas Record via PDN:

"Peter Wolf claims he owns the right to the patent for “Process for Providing Event Photographs for Inspection and Distribution Via a Computer Network..."

"He is suing Brightroom, Island Photography, Bird's Eye View, Digilabs, Printroom, SmugMug and Master Photos for infringement on the patented process."

"The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge David Folsom
Case No. 2:07-cv-00238-DF"

http://www.pdnpulse.com/2007/06/the_photo_feed__10.html#more

This oughta be interesting.
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David Johnson, Photographer
Social Circle (Atlanta) | GA | USA | Posted: 12:04 AM on 06.16.07
->> Interesting indeed. I wonder if his financial pockets are deep enough to hang with the defendants if this is a protracted case?
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Daniel Bates, Photographer, Assistant
Taylor | TX | United States | Posted: 12:14 AM on 06.16.07
->> I wonder when someone will patent the "Process for Providing Electronic Messages for Distribution Via a Computer Network".

And why didn't he sue Collages and Exposure Manager along with the rest?
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Rafael Agustin Delgado, Student/Intern, Photographer
Pasadena | Ca | USA | Posted: 12:24 AM on 06.16.07
->> I look forward to seeing where this one goes.

My good friend is currently at Northeastern Law school and from past conversations, this case does not really shock me at all.
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Harvey Dunn, Photographer
Southlake (Dallas) | TX | USA | Posted: 12:29 AM on 06.16.07
->> It would not surprise me to find out that the attorney for the inventor has the case on a contingency. Ed Goldstein, who according to the article is the attorney for the inventor, is a very experienced patent litigator.
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Dirk Dewachter, Photographer
Playa Del Rey | CA | USA | Posted: 1:09 AM on 06.16.07
->> I recall this guy's name as well but I think his patent is not so much about displaying the images for proofing on a website but if I recall correctly he allegedly found a way to be able to identify the participants in a race by their bib or participant's number and being able to conduct a search for that bib / participant's number online without having to go look through all the images. I went and took a look at all these websites that are listed and most of the events they cover are some form of races where the participants are wearing a number. I am not sure why Printroom is there but all the others have a search function by bib on these websites. It will be interesting in deed.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 1:44 AM on 06.16.07
->> Here is the previous thread on the subject:
http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=18926

I would have thought CameraBits would have been his first target, since their software, specifically code replacement is similar to one of his patent claims.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 1:47 AM on 06.16.07
->> For those with lot of free time on their hands you can read through the Federal District Court documents here:

http://dockets.justia.com/docket/court-txedce/case_no-2:2007cv00238/case_id.../
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 1:52 AM on 06.16.07
->> Whoops... sorry that link is a dead end. I thought links would provide more information.... my bad. I should have checked them out before posting. Sorry folks.
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Dirk Dewachter, Photographer
Playa Del Rey | CA | USA | Posted: 12:36 PM on 06.16.07
->> Peter Wolf's company is called Photocrazy.com and he has a link explaining his remote camera system, which ties into how he identifies participants in a race. Here is the link:L http://www.photocrazy.com/RCS/RCS.html
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Jody Gomez, Photographer
Murrieta | CA | USA | Posted: 10:53 PM on 06.16.07
->> I have a copy of the court docs (I have a pacer account) if anyone is interested. Just drop me an email and I'll send them along.
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Jeff Mills, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbus | OH | USA | Posted: 3:14 AM on 06.17.07
->> Wow, thats a pretty amazing remote camera system his website describes.

His machine basically does the same thing a $10/hr "button pusher", err, I mean "photographer" does, and yes there is a need for that for some events I'm sure.

Whats really intresting with such technology is you've really got to wonder if someday such as system is going to be smart enough to actually take the place of a true photographer.

In other words, with a bit of AI programing and some paraments on the basics of composition etc, would such an automated device be "taught" to track and frame a subject in a pleasing manner ?

They've already got those AF systems that can detect faces after all, so could it be that far off ?


Imagine mounting a 400 2.8 on a 3 way servo gimbal device in each corner of the endzone and along with a complex array of photo sensors, or maybe even a chip in the ball, having those camera's always able to track and shoot near flawless images in terms of exposure, focus and composition.


I cover a state track event as the event photogarpher and had to shoot about 8 hours of long jumping. Put an automated rig at the end of the pit and I could just sit back in the the shade and let it do its thing LOL
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Mark Scheuern, Photographer
Grand Blanc | MI | USA | Posted: 6:37 AM on 06.17.07
->> He's patented distance = velocity * time. Just wonderful... .

Mark
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Ron Bernardo, Photographer
Hamilton | ON | Canada | Posted: 9:31 AM on 06.17.07
->> I shoot for some of the event companies mentioned per event here in Canada and North East U.S. States. I wonder how this will affect the prices of the photos, the pay of the photographers, etc...

Most likely the photographer's pay will get more lower and the price of the photo will get more higher to pay for the royalty if Mr. Wolf wins.

I knew I should have applied for a Patent to have exclusive use of Bulletin Boards on the Internet,...

DARN, I missed that one!
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Jeff Mills, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbus | OH | USA | Posted: 3:21 PM on 06.17.07
->> Bottom line is the real winner of the case is not going to be Mr. Wolf, its not going to be any of the named defendents such as PrintRoom and its definatly not going to be any working photographers.

Only one's who will really come out ahead are going to be the lawyers for both sides.

Its just like a class action suit. The lawfirm gets $2 million of the award and the few hundred thousand people represented each end up getting a check for $2.

Always makes me wonder why I didnt go to law school ?
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Samuel Lewis, Photographer
Miami | FL | USA | Posted: 4:19 PM on 06.17.07
->> Jeff,

This sort of patent litigation is very different from a class action suit. Assuming he can prevail, the real winner is likely to be Wolf rather than his attorneys. I would expect that his lawyers have taken the case on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they win (or if they can force some sort of settlement).

At the end of the day, I'm not sure I see a difference between this case and the average patent troll case. Like most of those cases, the patent holder knows that they're not going to litigate the case any longer than it takes to force a settlement, and the settlement is generally far below the cost of defending the suit. Hopefully, one or more of the defendants will pool their resources, defend the case vigorously, and bring to light the various prior art that existed but, from what I understand, was not disclosed to the patent office while the patent was pending. That alone could very well invalidate the patent.
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Gavin Werbeloff, Student/Intern, Photographer
Atlanta | GA | USA | Posted: 5:51 PM on 06.17.07
->> Sam, the problem is, the patent validity cannot be challenged at trial, only through the PTO.
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Samuel Lewis, Photographer
Miami | FL | USA | Posted: 7:43 PM on 06.17.07
->> Gavin,

Respectfully, your statement is absolutely incorrect. I've seen numerous instances where patent validity was challenged at trial, and even cases where the challenge was successful such that the patent owner lost the case.

There are two ways to challenge the validity of a patent. One way is by filing a petition for re-examination at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. However, the process can take a long time, generally longer than the typical federal court litigation does these days.

The other, and more common way that the validity of a patent is challenged is in litigation by way of a declaratory relief counterclaim. The party sued for infringement will very often assert a counterclaim seeking a declaration from the court that the patent is invalid for a variety of reasons (ranging from the fact that the claims of the patent were anticipated by the prior art to more esoteric issues such as a violation of the on-sale bar and/or fraud on the PTO by failing to disclose prior art of which the inventor and/or the inventor's attorney were aware).

If the Wolf litigation isn't settled before parties like SmugMug have to file an Answer, I would expect that SmugMug will also file a counterclaim seeking a declaration that the patent is invalid.
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Kevin Johnston, Photographer
Oden | MI | USA | Posted: 9:33 PM on 06.17.07
->> Stupid question time.

Seems to me that I saw in a thread somewhere that prior to this patent some one had either written an article about or included in a book a description of event photography.

If that is correct then:

Doesn't that prove that the process existed prior to Wolf's filing for the patent?

Would some one patenting an idea or process that was created by an author and copyrighted make the patent holder liable for damages for violating the authors copyright?
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Samuel Lewis, Photographer
Miami | FL | USA | Posted: 9:54 PM on 06.17.07
->> Kevin,

All good questions.

While there are some caveats, if someone else conceived of the entire process detailed in the patent, and then published that process prior to the filing of the patent application, that should (at least in theory) render the patent invalid. The problem generally is that patent examiners don't have access to all publications, and thus, generally don't find such publications.

Your copyright question illustrates the difference between copyrights and patents. While patents protect ideas, copyright does not protect ideas. Copyright only protects expression of ideas (and in cases where the expression is inseparable from the underlying ideas, Copyright law won't even protect the expression).
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Jody Gomez, Photographer
Murrieta | CA | USA | Posted: 10:45 PM on 06.17.07
->> Excuse me for sounding stupid, but HIS IDEA ISN'T ORIGINAL - IT'S NOTHING MORE THAN COMMON SENSE!!! I came up with a way to identify my athletes based purely on common sense about three years before I ever heard of this guy or his company. However if I understand correctly, the way I (and most of you) identify your athletes (or by just putting them on your website for your clients to purchase) infringes his patent. Ridiculous!

He claims that his is the first company to use the internet for event photography and that HE "started an explosive growth in the event photography industry" He goes on to say "Photocrazy, Inc. was the first of its kind and blazed a path for literally thousands of event photography sites to follow. But we remain unique. The internet services we have developed and provide are proprietary innovations for which we have been awarded patents with a number of associated patents still pending."

On SmugMug's blog, Wolf has this to say "I was the first to assemble all of the elements, some of which were already in use on the net, into a proprietary system that raised the entire industry to new levels and began the boom in online event photo services. The copycats came out of the woodwork."

So, according to Mr. Wolf, not only are we infringers, we're copycats.

Whatever!!! (eyes rolling back in my head)
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Michael Granse, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 11:09 PM on 06.17.07
->> "I was the first to assemble all of the elements, some of which were already in use on the net, into a proprietary system that raised the entire industry to new levels and began the boom in online event photo services. The copycats came out of the woodwork."


Does this mean that only Ford should be making cars? Copycats have, after all, come out of the woodwork. I drive a Honda, but not for long. I'm likely to lose it when Peter Wolf sues me. I use jersey numbers to identify players for captioning photos of a recent baseball game, which is probably one of his "patented techniques" :)
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Gavin Werbeloff, Student/Intern, Photographer
Atlanta | GA | USA | Posted: 11:17 PM on 06.17.07
->> Samuel, I stand corrected. I thought an adminstrative step with the PTO was necessary in order to keep things unified.

On a side note, I'm hoping the trial judge will use the recent supreme court decision in KSR Int'l v. Teleflex to invalidate an obvious patent. This case was recently handed down and should serve as a useful judicial tool in culling bad patents.
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Mark Scheuern, Photographer
Grand Blanc | MI | USA | Posted: 7:15 AM on 06.18.07
->> Such is the state of the US patent system that it's been easy for people to patent the obvious and then use it as a tool to shake down legitimate companies. Things might get better with a recent Supreme Court ruling, though: http://tinyurl.com/2vkhok

Mark
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Frank Casimiro, Photographer
Houston/Sugar Land | TX | USA | Posted: 8:48 AM on 06.18.07
->> Seems he should also go after the event organizers at these races. I believe thats their intent, when handing out bibs and marking bodies, to have the athletes identified easily.

Will Mr Wolf next go after the major television networks for identifying members of team sports during broadcast. I'm pretty sure jersey numbers come into play in this process. I guess all those retired numbers hanging in sports arenas around the country will also need to come down since most fans, upon seeing them, immediately associate the number with the famous athlete.

When I originally saw mention of this in post years ago, I found it rather silly, and still do. It's a rather common sense thought process after all.
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Jody Gomez, Photographer
Murrieta | CA | USA | Posted: 12:15 AM on 06.19.07
->> Guess Mr. Wolf plans to use the proceeds earned off the photography industry's back to establish a free hospice. How noble. Read down and you'll see his comments. http://blogs.smugmug.com/don/2006/05/23/us-patent-number-6985875/#comments
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Steve King, Photographer
Ann Arbor | MI | USA | Posted: 2:08 PM on 06.19.07
->> This guy is worse than a two bit ambulance chaser and must be stopped. I have a friend who is a reputable "personal injury" lawyer so I know what they're like too. :-)
Even worse, he has the same name as the lead singer from one of my favorite 70's rock bands, The J. Geils Band, which makes me even sicker.

To me it's obvious that "the Wolf" has been successful doing this before, since he brags about his 11 other patents and four trademarks. Let's make sure we all stand up to this draconian use of smoke and mirrors and strong arm tactics to make his claim of a valid patent invalid, and make his efforts "patently useless" and a large waste of his and others money!
Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? No! Who's with me?
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John Plassenthal, Photographer
Vandalia | OH | USA | Posted: 2:31 PM on 06.19.07
->> In the last decade the patent office handed out tons of patents that are now in review. I'm sure many of you have heard of the RIM case where they were sued for infringement on a patent of handling e-mail. They stood their ground and last I'd heard 7 of the 10 patents were voided by the patent office while a judge was trying to decide if there had been infringement.

There are a number of people who have patented all sorts of common sense "processes" in hopes of sticking their hands into someone elses pockets for easy money. I only hope that the companies involved have the fortitude to stand up to the guy and work the process to get his patents revoked.
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Bruce Twitchell, Photographer
Coeur d'Alene | ID | USA | Posted: 9:45 PM on 07.28.07
->> "Now Congress is trying to cut down on poor-quality or downright ridiculous patents, and at the same time adapt the patent system to a high-tech era in which computers and other electronic devices may contain thousands of patentable parts."

http://tinyurl.com/2jbxv7
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Ed J. Szalajeski, Photographer
Portland | ME | USA | Posted: 9:16 PM on 10.03.07
->> Printroom settled with Peter Wolf.

Printroom user now have an option in a gallery to participate in the printroom sports license program.

Printroom paid Peter Wolf a substancial fee to license for the technology/workflow, and as part of the agreement now Printroom sellers, can select this option if they feel they fall into the area covered in Peter Wolf's license.

Printroom has three questions:

* Do you shoot participants in sporting events?
* Do you associate a unique identifier (such as bib number, name or time) with each image?
* Do the participants find the images using a unique pre-determined identifier?

If your answer is yes to all the above printroom suggests you enable the licensing within that gallery.

Any image sold will have an additional fee of $1.50 added to the end user (customer buying the a print or prints from one image). (excluding photographer orders, and ordering all images in a gallery).

Just some information I received tonight from my contact at PR.
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Marie Hughes, Photographer
Fremont | CA | USA | Posted: 2:19 AM on 10.04.07
->> Printroom caved, huh. Well, that's disappointing.
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Jody Gomez, Photographer
Murrieta | CA | USA | Posted: 1:36 AM on 01.30.08
->> Hour Photo Caved too, but Brightroom is fighting back.
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Jody Gomez, Photographer
Murrieta | CA | USA | Posted: 7:42 PM on 04.30.08
->> All the parties that were originally sued by this guy have already settled.

Now Brightroom is negotiating a settlement. This can't be good for any one of us or any agency, wire service, stock company or anyone who uses unique identifiers and search capabilities in their websites.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 8:16 PM on 04.30.08
->> Apparently no one has done enough research because, a wire service called All-sport as well as Associate Press and Getty Images was using searchable online archive in 1998 or so when I was a photo buyer back then. I could search by race name, sport, athlete's name and for sure on All-sport, bib number. I'm betting if the companies dug a little harder they would find prior art to nullify the claims.
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Jim Colburn, Photo Editor, Photographer
McAllen | TX | USA | Posted: 10:37 PM on 04.30.08
->> Hell. I invented the "tapping" style of electric guitar playing (with a cranked amp) before Eddie Van Halen but you don't see me suing HIM about it, do you?
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David Bailey, Photographer
Flower Mound | TX | USA | Posted: 3:15 AM on 05.01.08
->> Am I missing something or don't we all do this through keywords in our EXIF information and whatever service (Photoshelter, Digital Railroad, etc.) we use?
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Kelley Martin-Clough, Photographer
Temecula | CA | USA | Posted: 11:26 PM on 10.29.14
->> Update from Capstone:

BREAKING NEWS: A Federal Judge in the Central District of California has struck down all three patents in the lawsuit against our company. The Court ruled "that all three of the patents in suit are directed to patent-ineligible abstract ideas, and lack an inventive concept that would make them patent-eligible applications of those ideas." The case is over and Capstone has prevailed. We are excited to have this issue resolved in our favor!
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Delane B. Rouse, Photographer, Photo Editor
Washington | DC | US | Posted: 11:48 PM on 10.29.14
->> At least someone had the guts to stand up to this idiot. I still can't believe the companies like Brightroom caved instead of sticking it to this jerk.

Obviously he counted on the fact that once he had the patents it would be cost prohibitive to get them invalidated.

Printroom/Brightroom/etc. should contribute a nice about of $$$ towards Capstone legal fees.

(Isn't Printroom out of business???)
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 6:48 AM on 10.30.14
->> This is not good news for Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and the inventor of the seamless backdrop photograph, who filed for a patent earlier this year.

http://petapixel.com/2014/05/05/amazon-files-patent-showing-seamless-backgr.../

Selling my Amazon stock today.
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Thread Title: Photo Companies Sued For Alleged Patent Violation
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