Patent on selling photos on the web??? Please explain this to me

124

Comments

  • bhambham Major grins Posts: 1,370Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 13, 2007
    Well, that's kind of disappointing. I have no dog in this fight as I don't do that kind of event photography, but I hate ridiculous lawsuits. IMHO this one fall in that category because after reading (most) of the patent, IMHO it's far too broad. Some of what's covered makes sense--the devices he came up with for taking the shots, the time-coding, etc. But the simple act of adding bib numbers in the metadata then running a generic database search on them should not be under that protection. I cannot believe he was remotely the first one to come up with that common-sense idea. Obviously just about all photographers except Mr. Wolf think this patent needs some serious review & revision.

    I agree some parts of the patent is way to broad, but the parts with the devices, etc like you said is what I think is a very ligitimate patent.
    "A photo is like a hamburger. You can get one from McDonalds for $1, one from Chili's for $5, or one from Ruth's Chris for $15. You usually get what you pay for, but don't expect a Ruth's Chris burger at a McDonalds price, if you want that, go cook it yourself." - me
  • aj986saj986s Major grins Posts: 1,104Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 14, 2007
    soooo.....has SmugMug responded yet? headscratch.gif
    Tony P.
    Canon 50D, 30D and Digital Rebel (plus some old friends - FTB and AE1)
    Long-time amateur.....wishing for more time to play
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  • AndyAndy Bicameral New YorkPosts: 60,808Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 14, 2007
    aj986s wrote:
    soooo.....has SmugMug responded yet? headscratch.gif
    right above, 3 posts up:

    http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?p=680285#post680285
  • tsk1979tsk1979 Major grins Posts: 938Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 15, 2007
    So I guess instead of contesting this patent, most companies are conceding to they guy.
    From what I understand is that if you shoot photo events where each image has a different name(which is default out of camera) you need to get a license from this guy?
  • claudermilkclaudermilk Major grins Posts: 2,756Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 15, 2007
    My understanding, at least of the part why he's named SM, and the other online services (I'm not real familiar with them though) is the act of adding bib number to the IPTC keywords, then running a search on photos to pull up just those images of interest to the customer. This is the part of the patent that I see is causing eveyone heartburn and the part that needs to go away. It's far too generic of a concept & IMHO does not deserve any protection. The settlements are a shame from an interested bystander's viewpoint in that idealistically it ough to be fought to the bitter end; however financial realities probably intervene to where it makes more sense to just pay him to shut up and go away. But remember that this is all guesses, conjecture, and opinion on my part.
  • mercphotomercphoto Bill Jurasz Posts: 4,624Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 15, 2007
    My understanding, at least of the part why he's named SM, and the other online services (I'm not real familiar with them though) is the act of adding bib number to the IPTC keywords, then running a search on photos to pull up just those images of interest to the customer. This is the part of the patent that I see is causing eveyone heartburn and the part that needs to go away. It's far too generic of a concept & IMHO does not deserve any protection.
    He's basically patented a data base search that has been done for decades. Its idiotic that the patent office granted this patent in the first place. Worse that he's getting money from it.
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Austin TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
  • RogersDARogersDA Unknown...and happy. Posts: 3,502Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 15, 2007
    mercphoto wrote:
    He's basically patented a data base search that has been done for decades. Its idiotic that the patent office granted this patent in the first place. Worse that he's getting money from it.

    Here's the link to file for a reexamination of the patent.

    Let us know how that works out.
  • mercphotomercphoto Bill Jurasz Posts: 4,624Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 16, 2007
    Roger, I get it. You're tired of people bashing your employer for granting silly patents.
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Austin TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
  • claudermilkclaudermilk Major grins Posts: 2,756Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 16, 2007
    It's a stupid patent, we all think so, and there is nothing to say we cannot express our opinions. Don't like it? Don't open the thread, simple as that.
  • RogersDARogersDA Unknown...and happy. Posts: 3,502Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 16, 2007
    mercphoto wrote:
    Roger, I get it. You're tired of people bashing your employer for granting silly patents.
    It does not bother me that you bash my employer. I am merely suggesting that if you have the ability to invalidate the patent then there are resources for you to do that. That's a lot better that standing on a soap box and complaining about how "silly" the patent is.
    It's a stupid patent, we all think so, and there is nothing to say we cannot express our opinions. Don't like it? Don't open the thread, simple as that.
    Chris, I never said the people shouldn't express their opinion. Rather, it is suggested that if you have the information to invalidate the patent then by all means go and do it rather than sitting back and complaining.
  • mercphotomercphoto Bill Jurasz Posts: 4,624Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 16, 2007
    I don't really like quoting encyclopedias, but here goes:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Patent_and_Trademark_Office#Criticisms

    I'm not sure which one I like better, the exercising a cat patent, or the crustless sandwhich patent. I'm surprised they didn't mention the method of swinging on a swing patent, or the patent on the Cheesehead. Seriously, someone has a patent on the Greenbay Packers Cheesehead.

    In a perfect world challenging patents would indeed be better than griping about them. I don't like Wal Mart, so I do what one should do in that case, I make every effort possible to shop elsewhere, even if inconvenienced or if it costs me more money. I don't like coal power, so I voluntarily pay more for wind generated electricity. I pay attention to fuel mileage ratings when I shop for automobiles and it influences my purchase decisions. But I can't do everything. I'm sorry if I don't have the time to battle the patent office outright.
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Austin TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
  • StevenVStevenV Wake Up & Smell the Music Posts: 1,174Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 16, 2007
    RogersDA wrote:
    I...if you have the ability to invalidate the patent then there are resources for you to do that.

    I don't know anything about the patent-invalidation-and-revoking process, and I may be talking completely out of my asa (called "iso" these days) here, but that sure seems like a process that would take time. And lawyers. And money. Gobs of it, if one believes common knowledge about things that involve lawyers. (incidentally, complaing in forums takes none of those things, which is why there's so much of it.) Gobs of money, lawyers, and time are three things which most photographers (read "individuals, not companies with legal teams in the back room waiting for something to do") don't have. Instead we have governmental institutions ("of the people, by the people, for the people," or somesuch) which we'd like to trust do the right thing. [insert pause] Or maybe I should apply for a position as a writer for The Daily Show.

    Rogers, this is - in my case anyway - not intended as an attack on you or any other individual in particular*, rather the overall process and lack of staffing / funding / oversight / training that has put "us" (for is "the government" not part of "us," and are we not also part of "us?") in this incredibly awkward position.

    * well, ok. Maybe on the bozo-for-brains who actually stamped "ok" on this one while moving it from the inbox to the outbox. But we're assuming that wasn't you.
  • brandofamilybrandofamily Just a Guy with a Camera Posts: 1,957Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 26, 2008
    PhotoCrazy, Inc.
    Just found this in the pro help section...
    Notice for Professional Account holders:
    Uploading more than 500 photographs of participants in a single
    sporting event may require a License from PhotoCrazy, Inc.
    To avoid patent infringement, please contact:

    PhotoCrazy, Inc.
    Attn: Peter Wolf
    509 Raindance Street
    Thousand Oaks, California 91360-1219
    Email: peter@photocrazy.com

    What is PhotoCrazy, Inc. and can anyone here shed some light on this notice?
  • AndyAndy Bicameral New YorkPosts: 60,808Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 26, 2008
    Just found this in the pro help section...


    What is PhotoCrazy, Inc. and can anyone here shed some light on this notice?


    Photo Crazy's patents, as well as their ramifications, have been the topic of an ongoing thread on DGrin.com for two years: http://dgrin.com/showthread.php?t=26266&highlight=photocrazy. Please feel free to confer with your peer Pros in this forum.

    Essentially, if you are a Pro account holder and have at this time, or may have in the future, photos of /participants/ of sporting events available for sale on SmugMug, and the number of photos from any /SINGLE/ event totals 500 or more, you /may/ require a License from Photo Crazy in accordance with their pending *U.S. Patents No. 6,985,875* <http://www.photocrazy.com/Patents/Patent6985875.pdf>; and *No. 7,047,214* <http://www.photocrazy.com/Patents/US7047214.pdf>. All inquiries should be directed to:

    PhotoCrazy, Inc.
    Attn: Peter Wolf
    509 Raindance Street
    Thousand Oaks, California 91360-1219
    Email: peter@photocrazy.com <mailto:peter@photocrazy.com>
  • brandofamilybrandofamily Just a Guy with a Camera Posts: 1,957Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 26, 2008
    Andy wrote:
    Photo Crazy's patents, as well as their ramifications, have been the topic of an ongoing thread on DGrin.com for two years: http://dgrin.com/showthread.php?t=26266&highlight=photocrazy. Please feel free to confer with your peer Pros in this forum.

    Essentially, if you are a Pro account holder and have at this time, or may have in the future, photos of /participants/ of sporting events available for sale on SmugMug, and the number of photos from any /SINGLE/ event totals 500 or more, you /may/ require a License from Photo Crazy in accordance with their pending *U.S. Patents No. 6,985,875* <http://www.photocrazy.com/Patents/Patent6985875.pdf>; and *No. 7,047,214* <http://www.photocrazy.com/Patents/US7047214.pdf>. All inquiries should be directed to:

    PhotoCrazy, Inc.
    Attn: Peter Wolf
    509 Raindance Street
    Thousand Oaks, California 91360-1219
    Email: peter@photocrazy.com <mailto:peter@photocrazy.com>

    I'm glad I never post that many :)
  • mercphotomercphoto Bill Jurasz Posts: 4,624Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 31, 2008
    Saw this on a SportsShooter forums. The ability to patent business processes is taking a big hit (a good thing, in my opinion). And its possible it could render Mr. Wolf's silly little patent invalid:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idINN3026126020081030?rpc=44&pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true

    One can always hope a little sanity returns to the Patent Office....
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Austin TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
  • AndyAndy Bicameral New YorkPosts: 60,808Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 31, 2008
    mercphoto wrote:
    Saw this on a SportsShooter forums. The ability to patent business processes is taking a big hit (a good thing, in my opinion). And its possible it could render Mr. Wolf's silly little patent invalid:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idINN3026126020081030?rpc=44&pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true

    One can always hope a little sanity returns to the Patent Office....
    Yeah, we saw that good news, too. I immediately started talking to our attys :D We'll see!
  • du8diedu8die Major grins Posts: 358Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 31, 2008
    "Purported transformations or manipulations simply of public or private legal obligations or relationships, business risks, or other such abstractions cannot meet the test because they are not physical objects or substances," added the opinion written by Chief Judge Paul Michel.

    Hmmm. Does this open the door then to getting rid of software patents? One could argue that software is not a physical object or substance since in essence, it is 1's and 0's that are stored magnetically on physical devices... But the software itself is not physical.

    ne_nau.gif
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  • mercphotomercphoto Bill Jurasz Posts: 4,624Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 31, 2008
    du8die wrote:
    Hmmm. Does this open the door then to getting rid of software patents?
    Quite possibly. Though software patents have traditionally been hard to get anyway, and most software people I know of are against the very idea of patenting software (the exception being those programmer's employers of course!).
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Austin TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
  • KalrogKalrog Big grins Posts: 94Registered Users Big grins
    edited November 1, 2008
    mercphoto wrote:
    Quite possibly. Though software patents have traditionally been hard to get anyway, and most software people I know of are against the very idea of patenting software (the exception being those programmer's employers of course!).

    I'm looking forward to that - or at least making them more meaningful. Just like you can sue a ham sandwich, the patents aren't much better. If you really want an education in this matter, I have been following groklaw at http://www.groklaw.net/ for a few years now and it is a great place to learn and be entertained about this type of thing. And I am a programmer.
    Nathan Deckinga
    Leander, Texas
    http://www.2-dphoto.com
  • RogersDARogersDA Unknown...and happy. Posts: 3,502Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 2, 2008
    mercphoto wrote:
    One can always hope a little sanity returns to the Patent Office....
    One can hope that sanity continues to return to the Federal Circuit. The patent office has been quite adamant about not allowing software are business method claims. However, the office is above all bound by the laws enacted by Congress and signed by the President, and as interpreted by the courts. It is the court's past decisions, made as a result of attorneys zealously representing their clients, that argued for the software- and business method patents. The federal circuit essentially agreed with these attorneys, and the office was bound by their interpretation of the existing laws. In this case, however, the office indeed rejected Bilski's claims, the office's board of appeals affirmed the rejection of Bilski's claims, and the federal circuit agreed with the office that Bilski's claims were not patentable. Sounds like a rather sane office to me.

    Unfortunately, in my opinion, the Bilski case does not and will not eliminate business method or software patents at all. The Bilski decision only really requires a patent claims to be tied to a specific machine (among other criteria). This is where Bilski failed. So, the office will undoubtedly issue guidelines consistent with the federal circuit's interpretation so as to try to ensure that software and business method claims are sufficiently tied to a specific machine.
  • TexPhotogTexPhotog Major grins Posts: 238Registered Users Major grins
    edited January 11, 2009
    Andy wrote:
    Essentially, if you are a Pro account holder and have at this time, or may have in the future, photos of /participants/ of sporting events available for sale on SmugMug, and the number of photos from any /SINGLE/ event totals 500 or more, you /may/ require a License from Photo Crazy in accordance with their pending *U.S. Patents No. 6,985,875* <http://www.photocrazy.com/Patents/Patent6985875.pdf>; and *No. 7,047,214* http://www.photocrazy.com/Patents/US7047214.pdf

    Ok, so I have a silly question and I know Andy will get this right cuz he knows it all...

    Maybe I'm not understanding this right... what is the patent about... is it the algorithm of the search? Is it the way that the computer uses a database to search for "bib" numbers and match them to people? Or is it the while gear kit that he sets up on a marathon route???

    Also... what is a "sporting events"???

    And yes... I've read the whole 12 pages of posts... but my question comes up from this observation...

    Most of the discussions have been about marathon type events... but what about like a football game/soccer/hockey...

    If you shoot any of those events... and you enter "identifiable" information... would that also infringe on the patent???

    And what about if just for the hell of it... a photographer decides to be awesome, shoots a marathon, uploads 501 photos but doesn't charge for the photos... will that also infringe on the patent???

    Hopefully my questions make sense... <img src="https://us.v-cdn.net/6029383/emoji/headscratch.gif"; border="0" alt="" >
    Miguel
    www.kabestudios.com
    Nikon Gear
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  • mercphotomercphoto Bill Jurasz Posts: 4,624Registered Users Major grins
    edited January 11, 2009
    TexPhotog wrote:
    Hopefully my questions make sense... headscratch.gif
    Your questions make sense. Its the patent that doesn't.
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Austin TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
  • wolfpatentswolfpatents Beginner grinner Posts: 1Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited March 26, 2009
    Did someone invent or use what Peter Wolf patented in 1999?
    I’m researching the validity of two patents issued to Peter Wolf (U.S. 6,985,875 and U.S. 7,047,214) that cover event photography. It seems like these processes have been around for a while across a number of industries, including marathons, ski resorts, graduation ceremonies, amusement parks and other miscellaneous sporting events. If Peter Wolf wasn't the first pioneer, then he probably shouldn't own a monopoly on these processes.

    For those of you who haven't heard of Peter Wolf, he claims to have invented processes that involve taking event photos, uploading pictures to a database, categorizing the photos (e.g. by name or bib number), and making those photos available for online search (by the name or bib number) and purchase by individual participants.
    For a more detailed description of these patents, please visit wolfpatents.blogspot.com

    If you have any information that might help prove that all or some of the steps covered by these patents were actually invented or in use by individuals or businesses across any industry before 2000, let me know at wolfpatents@gmail.com. All communications will be kept confidential.
  • BMMImagesBMMImages Photographer Posts: 15Registered Users Big grins
    edited July 20, 2010
    Bumping this, as this nonsense patent was just brought to my attention (somehow, I missed it completely). Andy, has there been any update on your end for Smugmug?

    There appears to be one person who's decided to push back and bust this scam:

    http://santabarbarapix.com/pixblog/?page_id=953

    The last update is May of this year, but it sounds promising.
  • mercphotomercphoto Bill Jurasz Posts: 4,624Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 20, 2010
    I thought this patent had been invalidated already, but I could be wrong. I still contend the patent was ridiculous from the start and should have never been granted.
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Austin TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
  • AndyAndy Bicameral New YorkPosts: 60,808Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 20, 2010
    BMMImages wrote: »
    Bumping this, as this nonsense patent was just brought to my attention (somehow, I missed it completely). Andy, has there been any update on your end for Smugmug?

    There appears to be one person who's decided to push back and bust this scam:

    http://santabarbarapix.com/pixblog/?page_id=953

    The last update is May of this year, but it sounds promising.

    Nothing new from us, no.
  • essayteeessaytee Beginner grinner Posts: 7Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited January 7, 2011
    TexPhotog wrote: »
    Ok, so I have a silly question and I know Andy will get this right cuz he knows it all...

    Maybe I'm not understanding this right... what is the patent about... is it the algorithm of the search? Is it the way that the computer uses a database to search for "bib" numbers and match them to people? Or is it the while gear kit that he sets up on a marathon route???

    Also... what is a "sporting events"???

    And yes... I've read the whole 12 pages of posts... but my question comes up from this observation...

    Most of the discussions have been about marathon type events... but what about like a football game/soccer/hockey...

    If you shoot any of those events... and you enter "identifiable" information... would that also infringe on the patent???

    And what about if just for the hell of it... a photographer decides to be awesome, shoots a marathon, uploads 501 photos but doesn't charge for the photos... will that also infringe on the patent???

    Hopefully my questions make sense... headscratch.gif

    Ok, I'm bumping this as I have received correspondence from Peter Wolf regarding this issue. Anything new on this front? Does anyone have answers to the above quoted questions?

    I've subsequently checked the terms and conditions at the Smugmug site which was kindly pointed out to me by Peter Wolf. The particular paragraph is at the very end which is as follows:
    Notice for Professional Account holders: Uploading more than 500 photographs of participants in a single sporting event may require a License from PhotoCrazy, Inc. To avoid patent infringement, please contact:
    PhotoCrazy, Inc.
    Attn: Peter Wolf
    509 Raindance Street
    Thousand Oaks, California 91360-1219
    Email: peter@photocrazy.com
    I believe the operative word in the above paragraph is 'may'. If, as users of the Smugmug site, we don't obtain a licence then we are still complying with Smugmug's terms and conditions. Yes, on the surface of it we may be in breach of patent infringements, but is that my concern or Smugmug's?

    Another question. How does this apply to me as an Australian resident photographing Australian events?
  • chrisjohnsonchrisjohnson Major grins NetherlandsPosts: 769Registered Users Major grins
    edited January 8, 2011
    Interesting: spending most of this week and most of next trying to value a patent portfolio this is fascinating stuff.

    The event patents can be read via http://santabarbarapix.com/pixblog/?page_id=953. They cite applications in US and Japan, although other filings may have been done in the meantime. So for Australia you should check the current situation locally. As I read it, Smugmug is moving eventual liability to the individual member. Interesting is the 500 photo limit which I don't see reflected in the patents and which is presumably agreed with Mr Wolf and sets a precedent. Essaytee, get a patent lawyer to respond to Mr Wolf. Smugmug cut their deal already, apparently, and it likely includes a commitment to keep certain matters confidential. You are on your own unfortunately.

    The difficulty with valuing patents is that you don't know what they are worth until they are challenged in court. Should Mr Wolf win the case with santabarbarapix his position will be stronger Likewise, if he loses he will be weaker. Everytime a company in this business concedes even by recognizing his position or paying him money, he becomes stronger.

    In the patent world there is an abundance of "trolls". Trolls make an income by intimidating the weak, but also by greenmailing the strong. Applying for a patent typically costs <50k$ and is relatively easy. A patent case can take years to resolve and meanwhile your company is bleeding cash for lawyers and there is a shadow over your business. The photography business is tempting for a troll because it is 99% small companies who cannot afford to object. On the other hand the pickings are lean compared to the legal costs the troll is paying when somebody objects. A patent troll would either try to settle with santabarbarapix out of court for a nominal amount, thereby strengthening their position via a big player, or take them slowly to the wire which will scare anybody else wanting to go to court.

    I don't say that Mr Wolf is a troll. He claims to have a genuine case - the courts will decide eventually.

    The SBP case is being fought on prior art - which is tricky seeing that the granted patent makes a multiplicity of claims. Any attack on prior art is likely to be a partial victory only, leaving substantial parts of his patent intact. There might have been stronger tactics available had SBP contacted a patent attorney immediately instead of shooting from the hip and including an acknowledgement that they might be prepared to pay a license under certain circumstances (cheap enough?) and therefore implicitly recognizing some part of the Wolf case before they had even gotten started. By now getting professional legal advice might have been cheaper too.

    So, if you are getting threatened, you better get some proper legal advice or settle on the best terms available. Like many here I believe the patents will NOT survive a serious challenge but this needs to be properly organized and funded. Whatever you do, don't react directly to Mr Wolf however friendly he appears. He is not your friend and seeks a percentage of your business.
  • SamSam San Jose CA Posts: 7,418Registered Users Major grins
    edited January 8, 2011
    Well written Christopher.

    The crux of this is simple, and has little to do with the legitimacy of the patent.

    As an example If Peter Wolf were to demand I cease operations pay a licensing fee, or face litigation. My only options in the real world would be the first two options. I would exhaust my entire net worth plus a bank robbery or two and still would run out of money before I could have my day in court.

    Hence small individually owned photography businesses do not have an option to dispute Wolf's claims regardless of how outrageous they may be.

    Larger companies who have the wherewith all to fight will typically try and find the least expensive option as opposed to disputing the patent. Wolf will understand if a company has the financial ability to fight and provide an cheap out for them.

    We all lose with this system.

    Sam
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