One thing I hate about the great amount of technology that has exploded on our scene in the last 15 years, is that litigation usually walks hand in hand with innovation.
And all too often, it's Apple that's in the center of it.
So when the news broke today that Apple was suing RED and requesting that the courts invalidate their patents over ProRes RAW, was anyone really that surprised? And the interesting part is, it may not have happened without the chaos caused by JinniTech's Jihad over RED's proprietary technology status.
The news broke over at EOSHD, which looks to have gotten ahold of the lawsuit filed in Federal Court by Apple's lawyers against RED. In the lawsuit, Apple states that it had engaged the services of British imaging scientist Cliff Reader, to demonstrate that RED's Raw patent protection claim was indeed "unpatentable" and that U.S. Patent No. 9,245,314 should be invalidated.
“Petitioner, Apple Inc., respectfully requests that these claims be canceled”, followed by an overview of the key ‘314 patent. Under chapter VI. “CLAIM CONSTRUCTION”, the following aspects of the patent are dissected by Mr Reader. “Raw Mosaiced Image Data”. “Demosaiced Motion Video Data”. “Substantially Visually Lossless”. And the memory device “sufficiently large to store image data from the compression module”.
More to the point, the lawsuit seems to be centered on using Raw for a video camera with at least 6:1 compression for 2K or 4K resolution, which is in the compression ballpark for RedCode Raw. On top of that, the speculation is that RED was leaning on Apple to play ball and pay RED a royalty to use it on any Cinema grade camera. Apple didn't like it, and RED threatened legal action.
That started brewing last March, apparently. But then JinniTech's expose about RED's patents being based on questionable science and misdirection came to light. In their YouTube series on "Things you didn't know about RED," Jinni Tech used provocative terms like "thieves," and "scams" pertaining to their RED Mini-Mag being protected under their patents, even though the MiniMag used off the shelf components.
We wrote about it here, and my take was that Jinni was more about justifying the selling of their own MiniMags, in violation of RED's IP, than it was about the veracity of Jinni's claims. JinniTech even used cleverly disguised facts to make it look like a RED camera would take any third party MiniMag. But in reality, that isn't true, as a RED camera will verify a MiniMag before it actually will write to it.
RED Fire Chief Jarred Land defended the use said components, admitting some parts weren't made in the USA, as advertised. But then ended up lowering the price of their MiniMags as a result. RED is currently suing Jinni Tech for patent violations. At the end of the day, both sides have plenty to defend here, and users are in the middle.
With that history in play, it seems like Apple may see an opportunity here for using the same tactic in order to get the courts to invalidate RED's patent protection. And if that happens, would Sony be of the mind to revisit their court battle over the same Raw issue back in 2013?
It's all speculation until the lawsuit goes public, but if you connect the dots, that could be what's at the heart of this legal strategy. Only time will tell.