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Peter Wolf, PhotoCrazy, Inc. and his Patented Event Photography Process

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macsfstop says:

If this is an inappropriate post, feel free to remove it. I figured, however, that it not only applies to professionals/event/sport shooters, but also those using (or considering) specific sites like Printroom and SmugMug. Strange, though, that I couldn't find any Flickr discussions regarding this issue, as it affects all event/sport shooters.

Nutshell is uploads of events (sporting or otherwise?) of 500+ images must purchase a license from PhotoCrazy, Inc. to do so, or risk being sued.

Patent in pdf format here: www.photocrazy.com/Patents/US7047214.pdf
In html (google) format here: www.google.com/patents?id=GGB4AAAAEBAJ&printsec=abstr...

Suit brought in 2007 (as logged here):

June 8 (2007)
Peter H. Wolf vs. Brightroom Inc. et al
Plaintiff Peter Wolf claims he owns the rights to U.S. Patent No. 7,047,214 for "Process for Providing Event Photographs for Inspection and Distribution Via a Computer Network." The process allows photo proofs to be viewed and ordered online. He is suing Brightroom, Island Photography, Bird's Eye View, Digilabs, Printroom, SmugMug and Master Photos for infringement on the patented process.
Edward Goldstein of Houston is representing Wolf.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge David Folsom
Case No. 2:07-cv-00238-DF

SportsShooter.com's updated thread of the issue suggests that instead of fighting, those named may have entered into licensing agreements with Wolf/PhotoCrazy. Curious what that means for the users of those online sites...

Also discussed in threads here:
santabarbarapix (currently being sued)
fredmiranda
dpreview
Digital Grin Photography Forum
6:52AM, 26 July 2009 PDT (permalink)

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Don Giannatti (aka wizwow) says:

Personally, I think the guy is a nutcase. It shows the problem with the 'Patent' process and should be fought. On another front, I simply do not bother with small, petty people like that. He will find his own spot in the history of the internets..

(I am very familiar with this loon as I owned an online site, but I do believe he has a formula that has to do with time and exact placement of images in a time frame or some such stupidity. We must revamp the patent office to deal with the realities of a different age. The beaurocracy is so totally inefficient and bogged down in the patent office that is nearly impossible to deal with concerning outlandish patents like this guy.

No worries though, they'll get healthcare right. ;-) )
110 months ago (permalink)

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wingalls.photo says:

pshh... I doubt this guy is going to spend millions (collectively) on suing major corporations that have the money to sand bag...

Wiz, Yeah I know what you mean man!
110 months ago (permalink)

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Bec Thomas Photography says:

I totoally agree Wiz, some of the patents that have been approved are just out landish and not realistic. They really need to modernize that agency.
110 months ago (permalink)

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purplezebra is a group moderator purplezebra says:

It sounds like a process to me with very little "invention" detail. Just because someone has a patent does not mean that it couldn't get overturned by a court of law. There are many patent professionals out there that believe that many of the patents "approved" today could not stand up to scrutiny.

I know that the USPTO is supposed to verify that there's only 1 invention per application and that there isn't an already existing patent, but other than that I don't believe they're supposed to verify that a patent application is entirely enforceable.

Looks like Santa Barbara Pix is going to put PhotoCrazy's patent to the test.
110 months ago (permalink)

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Capt Kodak says:

Crap! [Can't say what I really want to due to the fact he may hold a patent on "excreting waste from the human body"...] That may be the most complex explanation for "your proofs will be online" that I've ever read--and probably why the patent got issued!

I hope someone eventually fights it and gets his patent overturned...
110 months ago (permalink)

impossible eggs [deleted] says:

My first question to the courts concerning this statement Process for Providing Event Photographs for Inspection and Distribution Via a Computer Network." would be whats the difference between providing this service for event vs other types of photos? the inspection/distribution service would be the same or very similar for all catagories of photos provided online for a similar purpose.
Second question would be that should this be a successful suit, then presumably since all providers of this service would then be a patent violation, doesnt that suggest a monopoly? And in the past there has been legal action/company breakups because of this. AT&T was a good example.
I'm wondering if theres not an ulterior motive, or perhaps the name PhotoCrazy, Inc. implies far more than just a name?
In any event the potential ramifications are far reaching and potentially affect 100% of camera owners.
Whats next? Wal-mart filing the same kind of lawsuit aimed at all the other chains of similar kinds of stores under the same sort of "violation"?
110 months ago (permalink)

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Bec Thomas Photography says:

Microsoft actually owns and has been successful in holding up similar types of patents for software. As for Monopoly that is a different kettle of fish and many of the Sherman anti-trust laws have now been tossed out or not renewed by Congress.

That aside he's going after smaller company's likely trying to bully them into paying him, maybe the economy is affecting his profit margin. He probably doesn't want to see this go into a court room. By his patent claims then Flickr would also be in violation and you'll notice they are not listed.... Yahoo's legal department is to big of a fish to fry.
Originally posted 110 months ago. (permalink)
Bec Thomas Photography edited this topic 110 months ago.

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Will's Photoimaging says:

There is no "invention" within the patent, it is just a workflow. Maybe I'd better get a patent for my image processing steps, how I set up lighting gear, login to a computer or even how I take a photograph !.

If the patent was for the technology to remotely record the participants details from their individual chip then I'd understand it.
110 months ago (permalink)

absorbed wash [deleted] says:

Haha.
That seems ridiculous to me.

That's like saying you own the patent to having your clients sign a contract before the shoot, or that you own the patent to taking a pee before you shower in the morning

It's just part of the workflow
110 months ago (permalink)

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Capt Kodak says:

@Will's photo imaging: A patent is not just for traditional "inventions"--you can patent a process too. Many "technology" patents are nothing more than the "method of..." that explain how to use other technologies together to create a product or service...
110 months ago (permalink)

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macsfstop says:

Wow, thanks for the feedback; I thought I was the only one who's head imploded a little as I tried to wrap it around this crazy idea.

Had no knowledge of it until I read SmugMug's TOS... at the very bottom it states:

"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"

SmugMug appears to be the only service that references photocrazy at all, much less warns its current and potential customers that they may need to pay off this guy.

Curious how the AP, Getty, Reuters, etc. (if only with their Olympics coverages) view this patent's looming shadow. Somehow I doubt there's any concern whatsoever...
110 months ago (permalink)

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Bec Thomas Photography says:

Nate someone was actually able to patent swinging. You know the type a kid getting on a swing, moved they're legs back and forth to cause a swinging motion... A parent was using it as a teaching tool for they're child, they never thought they would get a patent for it and were really surprised that they did.
110 months ago (permalink)

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Bike Monkey says:

You should all get a kick out of this recent exchange: www.photocrazy.com/Levi/Levi111021Ltr.pdf
83 months ago (permalink)

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Pathfindar says:

Photography company the victim of patent abuse, owner says

www.wfsb.com/story/24879800/photography-company-the-victi...
54 months ago (permalink)

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