Earlier this year, the cinema camera manufacturer RED filed a lawsuit alleging Nikon illegally used RED's patented data compression technology in its flagship full-frame mirrorless camera, the Z9. Per Y.M. Cinema, Nikon has answered RED's lawsuit and denied 'almost all infringements.'
RED's original lawsuit claimed the Z9's internal compressed Raw capabilities infringed upon RED's patents for compressed raw. Further, per the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the plaintiff, RED, accused Nikon of knowingly using technology described in RED's patents. The patents describe technology to capture 'highly compress[ed] video data in a visually lossless manner' in Nikon's Z series cameras, 'such as the "Nikon Z9 with Firmware 2.0"'
Nikon licensed TicoRAW technology developed by intoPIX. IntoPIX described how its technology allowed Nikon to introduce 8K/60p video into the Z9 through a firmware update earlier this year. TicoRAW's patented compression technology is 'mathematically lossless and visually lossless down to 1 bit per pixel,' depending upon the compression rate used for line-based processing. This is very similar to how RED describes its compression technology.
RED has sued other companies involving its patents, including Kinefinity, Nokia and Sony. The latter company countersued, seeking damages and an injunction. In RED's suit against Nikon, RED sought 'an increase of damages up to three times the amount found or assessed at least due to Nikon's willful and deliberate infringement [and] entitled to an award of its attorneys' fees because Nikon's infringement presents an exceptional case.' When we published our original story, Nikon said it was unable to comment on the matter and RED didn't reply for comment.
Returning to the latest development, Nikon admits 'it knew about RED’s prior lawsuits involving one or more of the Asserted Patents, including Red.com, LLC v. Kinefinity, Inc., 8-21-cv- 00041 (C.D. Cal.); Red.com, Inc. v. Sony Corporation of America et al., 2-16-cv- 00937 (E.D. Tex.); Red.com, Inc. v. Nokia USA Inc. et al., 8-16-cv-00594 (C.D. Cal.); and Red.com, Inc. v. Sony Corporation of America et al., 3-13-cv-00334 (S.D. Cal.). Nikon further admits that it has known of the Asserted Patents at least as of the date of the service of the Complaint.'
Continuing, Nikon says, 'Nikon denies that RED is entitled to any relief in this action and asks the Court to deny any of the relief requested by RED in its Complaint […] RED’s claims for alleged patent infringement fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted…'
Nikon claims in its answer to RED's suit that RED isn't entitled to injunctive relief because no injury has been established. Nikon continues to say that an injunction would serve the 'public interest.' Nikon also asks the court to enter judgment in its favor and against RED as follows: 'That RED takes nothing and is denied any relief whatsoever; That RED’s claims against Nikon be dismissed in their entirety and with prejudice; That Nikon be awarded the costs incurred in connection with this action…'
Interestingly, Nikon is taking what appears to be a different approach to its rebuttal to the lawsuit, suggesting that RED's patents shouldn't be enforcable. Specifically, Nikon argues that because RED was showing off the technology and even taking pre-orders for cameras using the company's compressed Raw technology before applying for the patent, the eventual patent they would receive should be narrower in scope than what it is, since the information was already public at the point of filing the patent application.
Nikon also suggests RED was 'ensnaring prior art,' meaning it was attempting – and eventually succeeded in – patenting technologies that were already understood within the camera industry.
If you want to read Nikon's full lawsuit, you can do so here. For now, Nikon Z9 users don't need to worry about losing the ability to shoot internal compressed RAW. Lawsuits can take a long time to be resolved, so it's not clear when, if at all, the result of any judicial decision will affect RED, Nikon or its customers. Check out this article if you'd like to learn more about RED's ongoing patent war.
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