Polaroid Sues GoPro Over Design Of Cube-Shaped Camera – Vaguely Worded Patent At Heart Of Claim

When the maker of Polaroid cameras sues GoPro, one might assume the legal battle is over instant photo technology. However, the once-iconic and hugely popular maker of instant photos is suing the company that makes sturdy cameras for adventure lovers over a design patent.

C&A Marketing Inc., the company which is the current owner of Polaroid-branded cameras, is suing GoPro for releasing the Hero4 Session camera. Polaroid has dragged the wearable camera maker to court with a copyright infringement lawsuit that was filed Tuesday in New Jersey’s U.S. District Court. The company has accused GoPro of copying the model of its Polaroid Cube.

The Polaroid Cube is a simple to use, point-of-view action camera that retails for about $100. While the affordable and sturdy outdoorsy camera was released in January, 2014, by the New Jersey-based Polaroid, GoPro released Hero4 Session camera about four months back. Polaroid has accused GoPro that the latter’s camera illegally copies the design of C&A’s Polaroid Cube camera.

At the heart of the lawsuit is a patent that Polaroid had secured in May. The U.S. patent office had strangely awarded a very vaguely worded patent to the company, which merely outlined the shape of the camera. The patent consists of the vague wordings, “The ornamental design for a cubic action camera, as shown and described,” followed by seven ultra-simplistic illustrations of the Polaroid Cube.

C&A, based in Ridgefield, N.J., had applied for the 14-year patent in January, 2014, and got it in May of this year, reported the Wall Street Journal. To top it all, the patent doesn’t even mention the size of the Cube camera.

Granted, the Hero4 Session camera looks strikingly similar to the Polaroid Cube and essentially serves the same purpose. Both have a camera lens on the front side, and large singular control button on the top for easy access and quick recording. The Hero4 Session has the reliable water and shock proof features that the rest of the GoPro family offers. It can also be used with a huge plethora of accessories. Speaking about the design, C&A Marketing executive Chaim Pikarski said as follows.

“We invested considerable resources in the design and development of a unique product with the Polaroid Cube. The product’s design is much of what makes it distinct. It has rounded edges, a slightly recessed lens and a single button on top — all important design elements, all used as well by GoPro for its Hero4 Session.”

Incidentally, GoPro’s camera is slightly larger than the 1.4-cube-inch Polaroid Cube. But C&A insists that GoPro infringes on the patent and wants the court to award it all of GoPro’s sales profits, along with interest and compensation for legal fees. Apparently, it also demanded an unspecified amount of money.

In its defense, GoPro stated several European Union patents for the Hero4 Session camera, as well as a U.S. patent for the camera’s plastic case, all issued in March, clearly indicate that, “GoPro was working on Hero4 Session well before the competitor filed for its patent, which covers its own product — not GoPro’s.” Unfortunately, the company is still to secure a U.S. patent that it had applied for its cube-shaped camera last year.

Beside the patent infringement case, GoPro has been wrought with poor sales of the Hero4 Session camera. The company recently dropped a $100 off the price in the hopes to move more inventories. Moreover, the company’s shares dropped by 16% just last week, their lowest level since GoPro went public in June, 2014, reported CNN.

In case the judge decides GoPro violated Polaroid’s patent, it could open a Pandora’s Box for other companies who too have, or are planning to launch, similar products.

[Image via YouTube Screen Grab]