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    DIY Photo Light Box: Did Amazon Patent Photography Against A White Background?
    By Steve Schuler | June 2nd 2014 02:26 PM | 9 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    You may try my hacks AT YOUR OWN RISK--there's infinite ways to damage or destroy people and property, I can't think of them all. Kids use adult...

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    To some, it might seem that you can patent anything these days. Last week a weird story appeared in my Facebook newsfeed: Amazon has somehow been able to patent photography against a white background. The story was originally reported on DIY Photography. It has been making the Internet rounds since. The Electronic Freedom Foundation points out that the story made it onto the Colbert Report. But things aren’t always as they appear. Photographer Ken Rockwell has attempted to clear up the confusion:
    “Amazon didn't patent the white cyc or the white background as the ignorati have claimed; they only patented a clever method to get the reflecting floor to blend seamlessly into the background, as-shot in-camera. Read the patent itself for details and ignore the ignorati who thought that Amazon patented the white background itself, hee hee.
    Ideas aren't patentable; implementations are. Pros need fast results; post-processing is for hobbyists.
    This means if you use this clever method for your studio shots, especially if you're an online retailer showcasing your wares, you might be hearing from Amazon.
    Amazon's patent doesn't have anything to do with using a white background, using a light table, tent, or using a clear glass table over white, and it has nothing to do with using a blown-out white backdrop. It has everything to do with how everything is arranged to make the floor blend into the backdrop along with a slight reflection underneath.” Source: See post titled “Amazon’s Patent”

    I suppose some might argue that some photographer somewhere has used this technique but it never occurred to him or her that the idea was patentable and it might be interesting to see if Amazon’s Patent is challenged. Whether or not Amazon has a legitimate patent I decided over the weekend to see how quick and simple it might be to build a DIY photo light box.

    I repurposed a plastic and fabric cat condo that our cats tore up (all I had left that was salvageable was one cube) and attached a pillow case to the top rear crossbar with chip clips (you can also use binder clips).

    I didn't iron the pillow case and used ordinary room lighting to avoid accidentally infringing on Amazon's patent.

    Is Amazon’s patent frivolous? I was a model once (now I have a face for radio) so, does this mean I can submit a patent for the male runway strut? As Rockwell suggests, Amazon likely has a legitimate patent contrary to what many critics claim.

    Comments

    I've been fascinated by two things, as of late: patent law and cat toys (No, seriously. I'm like that.). This article has both. What an unlikely circumstance. Thanks for the information, and the links.

    KRA5H
    Howdy, Bill.

    If you like cat toys see my article, "DIY Laser Interferometer". It combines a cat toy and science. I don't think it will infringe on anyone's patent. Science 2.0 is an open science site. We share our ideas for free. No patents nor licensing fees.

    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    This method of seamlessly blending the floor and backround was not invented by Amazon. It too... just like every other aspect of this setup.... has been around for decades.... Sincerly, product photographer who know's more than Ken Rockwell.

    KRA5H
    I can't help but find this story endlessly fascinating. And I don't know why. I don't disagree that it could be argued that the technique has around for decades. And presumed to be in the public domain. And perhaps the idea of patenting it seemed absurd to the average person. So, now people are up in arms that Amazon had the audacity to patent something considered to be in the public domain. Rockwell suggests that Amazon has something truly unique. I'm happy to follow the story to see if and how the patent will be challenged.
    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    Here ya go....

    So original others have been building and selling table top versions since what, the 80s? Probably longer than that.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=236309&gclid=CjkK...

    KRA5H
    I've have a couple of "cutting boards" that I got as special event swag. They're actually thin, translucent, white sheets of plastic shiny on one side that I can use as the floor of the light box that might achieve the same affect as a "slight reflection underneath.”
    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    KRA5H
    Is Amazon's patent similar enough to the Smith-Victor Digital Desktop that Smith-Victor has case against Amazon?
    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    KRA5H
    I reflected on this issue a bit last night and it occurred to me that what Amazon wants is a very specific kind of shot that is practical (the effect is done in-camera so, no need for retouching in Photoshop or what have you which is a bit of a time-saver--Amazon shoots a lot of products) and consistent (every shot of every product looks the same) so, in a way, the style of shot becomes part of Amazon's "brand." I'm not a patent attorney, but I don't think an idea has to be original to be patented. By this I mean who invented (or discovered--if you're a Platonist) Calculus? Leibnitz or Newton? As far as I can tell Newton published first and thus got the credit. A bit of trivia: Leibnitz's notation is most commonly used whereas Newton's original notation isn't. Anyhoo, I finally found someone with a JD who has provided some insight regarding this issue. See PPA attorney Stephen Morris' comments here: http://www.ppa.com/ppa-today-blog/hear-about-amazons-patent-on-s.php
    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    KRA5H
    Since there are 9 very specific parts to the process, and you are off by one bit, you won't be infringing on Amazon's patent. Also, if you have used this process and documented the procedure with "pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was" (any Arlo Guthrie fans?) then you can challenge the claim with the US Patent Office.
    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel