Wednesday, November 4, 2015

"Those who do not learn..."

There is an old saying from the 15th century philosopher Santayana, "those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it."  Here is a case in point, Polaroid has filed a patent infringement suit against wearable-camera maker GoPro headquartered in San Matro, CA, as indicated:  The suit alleges that GoPro Hero4 Session illegally copies the design of C & A Marketing's (exclusive maker of Polaroid branded cameras)  Polaroid Cube Camera.  At issue is the design, not any functionality, for which C & A was granted a patent in May.  GoPro said it is still waiting for a patent it filed for last year.  (Patent applications generally take 20-24 months from filing to issue or rejection, so, GoPro will likely have to wait some time for a decision.)

To travel back in time, Polaroid's instant camera, which developed a photo in 60 seconds, captivated America when it was first introduced late in 1948.  It seems arcane today when the iphone gives you a selfie on the spot, but back then it was revolutionary.  A roll of Kodak film sent to the company in Rochester, NY for development  took two weeks to process.

Polaroid initially filed suit against Kodak in 1976 when Polaroid alleged that it had suffered losses approaching $4 billion because Kodak had infringed its patents.  Polaroid sought $12 billion in damages  A long, protracted legal battle followed.  Finally, in October of 1990, a Boston court awarded $909 million to Polaroid which was seen by Wall Street analysts as a negative for the winner as it was well below their foretasted award of $2.5 billion.

But, Polaroid won.  It took alot out of the company but it refused to abandon its Intellectual Property.  There's a good chance history will repeat itself with GoPro.

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