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Nikon files a patent infringement lawsuit against Sigma

This just in today - Nikon files a patent infringement lawsuit in Japan against Sigma over lenses with VR:

"Nikon's lawsuit seeks an injunction against Sigma's manufacture and sale of infringing interchangeable lenses with vibration reduction for single lens reflex cameras, along with damages for past infringement.

Although Nikon attempted to resolve Sigma's patent infringement through negotiation, a non-adversarial resolution could not be reached. Consequently, Nikon concluded that filing a lawsuit was the only way it could protect its intellectual property."

Update: according to Reuters, Nikon is looking for a compensation of 12.6 billion yen (around 150 million dollars).

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  • First?

    Interesting. But it’s called OS. :-P

    • First?

      Also, does this mean Sigma OS is as good as nikon VR?

      • SZRimaging

        Nope, just means they may be using a system similar to VR to do their OS. It has no bearing on how well it is executed/how well the parts are made.

        • Just A Thought

          I wonder if Canon will now sue Nikon over AFS lenses???

          • Zograf

            I doubt Canon will bother – after all they need a competitor)) I have brief experience with Canon lenses but they seem way faster.

      • http://www.intersiteimaging.com/ BrettA

        Effectively, YES. If it wasn’t as good – or better – in some way (precision, value or whatever), Nikon wouldn’t give a rat’s hinterteil about it and wouldn’t sound like suit-happy gits.

        The larger question is does this mean that we’re gonna lose all decent 3rd-Party Nikon glass? If they’re successful with Sigma, will they go after anyone and everyone, to the clear detriment us us, their customers. And will they then jack up their prices when competition is obliterated. I don’t have any 3rd party glass (and haven’t since the ’70s), so my last sentence is my main concern personally, but (even potentially) 3rd-Party buyers should be far more concerned, methinks.

        • http://www.zhovtenko.net Vsevolod Zhovtenko

          I have 2 EX sigma lenses 100-300 and 150, both are superb and doesn’t have OS (VR) so if sigma won’t be able to use OS in future lenses I won’t bother much (’cause future cameras will have even better high ISO specs, who will then need VR ?(except for ultra-telephoto lenses), by the way I plan to by their other excellent lens – 15mm diagonal FX fisheye wich also doen’t have|need VR :)

          • Doug Laurent

            sigma’s OS and nikon’s VR are very similar in behaviour, but both are way behind if it comes to video compared to canon’s IS system. i own the new sigma 120-300mm f2.8 OS and the new nikon 200mm f2 vr2, and both stabilization sytems have the same sudden jumps that make it difficult for filming. all current canon lenses have constant calm movements in stabilization mode. strange nobody on this planet seems to have recognized or compared this yet.

            • Mim

              probably because everyone on this planet is taking great photos with their DSLRs.
              Only canon users with the crappy and slow AF use their DSLRs more for video than photos.

            • Doug Laurent

              as an owner of 50% canon and 50% nikon equipment it’s always fun to see how the fanboys build their own reality, ignoring the facts just to feel they are with the winning brand. there is no relevant difference in AF speed between two brands, and this is why at least 50% of all sports photographers do use canons. nikon clearly is way behind in video, and if it stays like that, it will affect the companies sales and product quality in the longterm. nevertheless i would be more than happy if nikon does outperform canon in the future again.

            • joofoot

              I believe when he said ‘slow AF’ he was talking about AF in video-taking. Anyway, I am a Nikon user, and yet I fully agree with Doug that Canon IS is better in term of constant stabilisation (i don’t know if such thing exists..) in regard of video shooting. Sigh, Nikon, why don’t you even make us able to shoot in 60p. :(

            • Doug Laurent

              as the nikon / sigma stabilization does have small sudden jumps and canon’s does not, it means it does not only affect videos – a certain percentage of the pics you take with a nikon/sigma lense might also be worse because of the jumping effect. in any event the sigma stabilization looks very close to nikon’s. i wish they would have copied canon’s IS.

  • Marc W.

    Hope Nikon doesn’t become the next Sony.

    • Global

      I hope Nikon wins IF the technology theft is real. If Nikon developed this technology, they deserve to be paid for it. Anyone just applying patented and especially actually developed technology is a thief.

      Sigma should be given a fair chance in a court of law to prove that they didn’t just steal the technology from NIkon. If they prove it, then thats that.

      What would be terrible is if Nikon is just intimidating. But Nikon is not known for that, so also Nikon should be given a chance to show that its correct. Clearly it believes it can win.

      • Stepper

        Even if you don’t use Sigma products, consumers like you and me will loose along with Sigma if NIkon wins this one.

        • Ronan

          No.

          • Stepper

            uh,… yes!

            • gt

              if its true, they’ll just have to develop a different optical stabilization technology. Notice how Nikon is not suing tamron for VC? or Canon for IS? There are other ways to do it

            • gt

              perhaps even a licensing agreement from nikon

            • Sheldo

              Ah, Canon was the first to release IS technology, not Nikon

            • gt

              @Sheldo,

              Nikon was the first to patent it. There’s reason to believe Canon is licensing the technology

            • Kenji

              Or that Canon’s approach is somehow fundamentally different than Nikon’s in the way it functions

              Or perhaps its a trade, Canon doesnt sue over USM/AF-S, Nikon doesnt sue over VR/IS

        • Global

          “Even if you don’t use Sigma products, consumers like you and me will loose along with Sigma if NIkon wins this one.”

          That’s not true — if Sigma can afford manufacturing operations & if they completely dismiss settlement or licensing possibilities (assuming they did reverse engineer), then we Nikon users are losing out, because Nikon’s mass market is hurt when Sigma sells Nikon’s lenses with a Sigma label (re: sells Nikon’s technology). With low engineering costs, of COURSE Sigma can afford to undercut Nikon. Just reverse engineer Nikons products….

          By the way, i think Sigma is GOOD for the market. And I like their hyper-competitive model. Love Sigma. I don’t buy their stuff. But I love them for putting that price lowering pressure on the market.

          I just want them to be good global citizens and not steal technology in order to do it.

  • Jaye

    What I like about Sigma is that they’re not your typical Japanese company and are quite the scrappy bunch. They backwards engineer everything and release some crazy lenses.

    • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

      True, but “backwards engineer” also means you may be stepping on someone else’s IP. Wait until someone else comes up with a three-layer sensor and see how Sigma feels about that ;~)

      • Thom Rockwell

        Of course… but the patent-infringement-lawsuit thing is a sort of game, and the real winners in this game are always lawyers.
        Nikon VR it self wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t because Canon IS.
        At the end, everything is a copy of everything.

        • Banned

          I should be a lawyer for the money but man, what a boring job.

          • http://dalamaniac.com maheshdalamaniac

            man, whats more boring than just reading internet blog?

        • Rawfile

          I believe Nikon came out with VR before anyone else. If I recall it was used in the Nikon Zoom Touch 105VR for the first time. may be wrong though.

          • Worminator

            Probably wrong, though I can’t be completely sure. Panasonic and Canon have had it for a long time, too. Sony and Pentax do itthe other way, with a moving sensor rather than a moving lens element.

            Now if Nikon, Canon and Panasonic can coexist with optical stabilization without a big patent spat, Sigma must be doing something very specific that copies a particular aspect of the Nikon system that is covered by a its patent or patents: it’s not OS per se that’s the problem, but the specific way it’s implemented, that’s not Nikon’s panties in a bunch.

        • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

          Nikon patented the original VR, before Canon. I believe that Canon and Nikon did some cross licensing over the years that settled that issue, but there may be payments of some sort lurking in the background that none of us can see (Nikon doesn’t list any IP income on their financials that I’ve noticed).

          • Worminator

            What about the “Mega O.I.S.” on Panasonic compacts and superzooms, also some of the Leica-branded 4/3 lenses. Introduced around 2002 I think.

            • Rawfile

              The Nikon Zoom Touch 105VR was introduced in 1994; Canon introduced the 70-300IS in 1995; Nikon also introduced the 80-400VR in either 1999 or 2000 don’t recall which year exactly.

        • gt

          “real winners are the lawyers?”

          yes, the attorneys get fees…but the real winners are the companies themselves. These suits usually end in settlement and they end with the infringing company paying out a large sum of money to the other.

          The lawyers are agents of the company — and are acting at their request. They get a small percentage of the overall settlement or the overall judgment. Your comment makes no sense

          • http://www.zhovtenko.net Vsevolod Zhovtenko

            even small percentage of 150 million (even 1%) is a huge amount of money!
            And by the way interesting that Nikon first developed HSM(AF-S) but somehow forgot to patent it O_o so Canon later (much later) patented it.

            • gt

              They are still not the “real winners.” They’re service providers.

        • sirin

          it’s not lawyers who get 12 billions and kick the competitor in the production line.

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin
      • Tony

        Darn… it used to be 100 yen for $1 .. (-_-!)

      • Carl

        Ok, now its clear why Sigma wants 10’000 bucks for the SD1: They where trying to negotiate with Nikon to pay them SD1′s. At 10.000 USD this would be only 15.000 bodies ;-)

    • Hhom Togan

      With crazy quality control problems! that´s a feature:

      elements that aren´t centered, elements that have finger smudges, lenses that front or back focus like crazy!!! I had a 18-50mm f/2.8 that was front focusing like crazy out of the box and it had dust inside, the micro adjustment solved half of the problem at close distances but when using it in subjects far it front focused again… :P…. bought a 10-20mm after two days of using the switch fell and where it was fell off… that was enough for me…

      IF Sigma had a strict QC they would rock, but with the rampant problems they are just playing with people´s money. Samyang is actually way more serious than SIgma

      • Mock Kenwell

        Yeah, ignoring the fact that it’s 2011 and making manual primes is totally serious.

  • RR

    Go Nikon! Make them pay! Your intellectual property is your only.

    • Stepper

      You do realize that you are routing for Nikon to limit their competition?
      Whether Nikon is right or wrong in this case, everyone, including you and me, will loose if Nikon wins.

      • AnoNemo

        … and pay even more for Nikon lenses.

      • http://www.createdbylove.com/ Lewis

        We are already paying a lot for Nikon lenses but if Nikon can’t protect their intellectual property then what is there incentive to spend money on R&D. No R&D means no new products.

        I’ve all for competition to keep prices reasonable and maybe there really isn’t enough out there, but if your going to compete you have to play by the rules.

      • Mim

        you’re absolutely right Stepper. Companies like Nikon and Canon should open up their IP for free for anyone else to use, free of licensing fees. Hell, they should publish the blueprints for their lenses too, so that other companies can make perfect copies albeit with different badge and lower price.

        • Jeremy

          “Hmmm. This blueprint calls for curvy glass. Plate glass is so much cheaper, let’s use that instead. Glass is glass, right?” lol

    • RR

      I think Nikon is got a lot on their hands competing with Canon, while another company profits with Nikon’s ideas, the profit obtained by Nikon research an intelectual property is Nikon’s only, so in my opinion sue Sigma back in to the stone age, cause theft is theft. Plain and simple.

      • John Trevor

        Except patent infringement, and theft, are completely different things.

  • http://www.meteostra.it/dslrank Nicola

    Nikon seems to be right,but i’d be happier if they replied to competitors with great,moderately priced lenses like the sigma macro 70 f/2.8, sigma macro 150 f/2.8, or the tamron 17-50 f/2.8, or the tokinawide zoom(10-17 or 11-16?can’t remember), or the samyang fixed wide..

  • C

    Oh, I just worry will Canon’s IS sue Nikon’s VR :(

    • Global

      Those two giants would settle. And by the way, it would be private. For all we know this already happened. Major corporations are usually discrete about this sort of thing.

      • Tony

        Or they can be liked Nokia and Apple….

        Nokia filed 40-50 law suits against Apple. They said “…Apple is attempting to get a free ride on the back of Nokia’s innovation.” And Apple was like “damn right, so what.”

    • Ronan

      Why? Nikon patented VR before Canon did.

  • AnoNemo

    Great job Nikon! Since you no longer can provide new products (FX) let’s just sue other companies. I bet Nikon also steals from sony and others. It is just really disappointing. Besides, I understand the business behind this…perhaps Nikon starts making more profit from lawsuits than from actually delivering on their promises.

    I think it is time for Nikon to come out of the woods and deliver on the big promises …. you know all, I am talking about those new cameras and everyhting the Nikon leadirship has been talking about. There is an american saying “where is the beef?”

    I guess if Nikon wouldn’t overprice its products and would make them available then the loyal Nikon fans would not even think about Sigma. :-)

    • nobody

      “I think it is time for Nikon to come out of the woods and deliver on the big promises …. you know all, I am talking about those new cameras and everyhting the Nikon leadirship has been talking about. There is an american saying “where is the beef?”

      You haven’t heard news coming from Japan for some time, have you?

      • AnoNemo

        yes, but those products supposed to be finalized before the natural disaster. As a Nikon fan I would give more credit to Nikon announce something and wait a bit longer. But right now I am not sure I can support them by purchasing for example new Nikon lenses and accessories since we have no clue of what is coming.

        Last year they had big mouth and nothing surprising …. except constant product shortages and one of the worst guarantee and repair policies. So, let’s face it, Nikon should be more honest and I believe the loyal customers would understand many things in a more patient way.

    • Rawfile

      I dont understand which promises you are referring to. Nikon has not made any promises that i know of to anyone, unless they are contacting you directly. how many new industry leading FX lenses did Nikon introduce last year?

      As far as Nikon product being overpriced, its pretty easy for aftermarket companies (like Sigma) to come up with a less expensive alternative, when they don’t have to incur any R&D costs.

      Again what big mouth did Nikon have? it seems to me you have a lot closer relationship with Nikon in your head than what is reality. As far as guarantees, Nikon offers a five year guarantee on lenses which is considered very good among the major manufacturers.

      • AnoNemo

        1) Big mouth promises – please run a search on NikonRumors and look for interviews with Nikon executives. You will find quite few promises made many Nikon leaders about upcoming pathbreaking new and exciting products. So far I have not seen any during 2010 and 2011.

        2) Nikons are a bit overpriced. A good example for this will be the new A77 from sony. According to Thom it may well be a 24MP APS-C beast at $999 with a lens. Tell, me compared to this the D7000 isn’t it a bit overpriced? Nikon has been enjoying a comfortable ride when they only had to look at what Canon is doing but now Nikon is getting squezed by Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, and Olympus. I would include as well Apple because those cell phones may completely take care of the Nikon P&S systems.

        3) Warranty – please try to take your Nikon lens you purchased on your holiday let’s say in Italy for a warranty repair in the US. They will not repair it even though a) you have proof of purchase, b) you registered the product only, c) even if you want to pay. Now, try this: buy an iPod touch in the US and go to the UK and try to submit for a repair. Apple will repair the product for you no matter where you purchased it.

        Yes, I can see the Nikon repair and warranty policies as consumer friendly. :-)

        • todd

          I don’t even know where to start with this…

          • AnoNemo

            Me neither … :-)

            • Bondi Beach

              Flame war!!!

        • Ronan

          AnoNemo stop trolling…

          I mean… wow…. kids those days >.<

          • AnoNemo

            sorry, tried make a joke :-)

        • Rawfile

          Sorry replied to the wrong post:)

          Again, all the promises you are eluding too are on Nikon Rumors…. (rumors being the operative word).

          Most of the comments which I have read made no promises (product or timeline); in one Nikon spoke about an EVIL type camera and how they continue to monitor sales and impact of this segment. Nikon has always stated that they are always looking at new technologies and if it is a right fit at the right time they proceed forward with it.

          Again you are stating rumors from Thom Hogan this time. Currently and we can only speak of currently (not rumors), the pricing segmentation that Nikon has is in line with the competition. As far as Sony is concerned they have no clear upgrade path; if I remember correctly they are abandoning the full frame line (yes this is a rumor).
          Olympus has determined that they are no longer going to be manufacturing DSLR cameras and have discontinued all of their current DSLR’s with the exception of their pro model which is way overpriced ($1699) in format, pixel count, dynamic range, and high ISO performance. The market share you are mentioning that these manufacturers have gained is not from DSLR’s but actually include EVIL type products for total market share, since they cannot compete in the classic DSLR arena. If you compare true DSLR systems all of the listed manufacturers have lost market share.

          WOW: warranty…. first off i would be silly to send my lens for repair in Italy if i live in the USA. I purchase all my lenses from valid reputable dealers and have never had an issue with lens repairs as in my 20+ years i have only had one lens that was an issue and that was returned for replacement at the store I purchased it from. Pretty good track record, and a lot better track than i have had with any Sony or Apple product….

          Read more on NikonRumors.com: http://nikonrumors.com/2011/05/25/nikon-files-a-patent-infringement-lawsuit-against-sigma.aspx/#ixzz1NOGvbig0

          • AnoNemo

            Maybe you’re right but I had different experience.

            • http://www.flickr.com/photos/shigzeo/ shigzeo

              Yes, you did. That happens with every product under the sun. Even BMW service has its trouble.

              As for promises, you misread everything; you cannot obfuscate rumours for truth – real life don’t play that way.

              And as for the D7000 vs and unreleased camera? What the hell, mate? The D7000 is using the state of the art from late 2009 and you are comparing it with the state of the art in the middle of 2011, or late 2010?

              The math speaks for itself. I wouldn’t compare my D200 with the D300 for anything but usage as well, tech marches on.

              You need to think a bit more before posting as you lose to pedants like myself and others on the forums that READ first, THINK second, and TYPE third.

          • roger that

            Concerning the warranty issue you’re wrong! It is a shame altogether, that in a global market and especially for companies that produce in a variety of countries they still deny international warranty.
            An original Nikon product bought in the US at a well-known dealership was considered in Europe as a grey-market subject. The same happens vice versa as the US and Europe apparently uses different serial No. circles. And every No. that doesn’t belong to the circle assigned to the accordingly country is considered as grey-market-product and thus no warranty. The only exception of the rule are are made for a c c r e d i t e d professionals!

            Staying in one and the same country you will never run into this conflicts but then it is better to keep silent.

        • jg

          Right on AnoNemo! You made valid points. It’s a pity the fanboys had no reasonable response.

          • AnoNemo

            jg – they are also entitled to voice their opinion. I guess all of us is guessing but it will be interesting to see what will come out of this. ;-)

            • http://micahmedia.com Micah

              I’m a fan, but not a fanatic. Your point about Nikon’s warranty policies is valid. It’s heinous bullshit. Nikon USA should not exist as it does. It’s antiquated and backwards business practice. But, it’s also just more of that same for big American corporations.

        • zoetmb

          You’re wrong about the warranty. If you buy a lens in Europe (for example) and physically pick it up in Europe and have a receipt stating so, Nikon USA will warranty the lens. What they won’t warranty are grey market imports.

          As for Nikon pricing, the main reason for expensive pricing in the U.S. is the weak US dollar. It was only a few years ago that a dollar bought 120 Yen. Now it buys 80 Yen.

          As for Sony, don’t compare unreleased cameras to Nikon’s existing. You have no idea what the build quality is going to be. The Nikon D7000 is generally considered to be a great DSLR for the money. Any Sony has been losing $ billions so you never know what’s going to happen. Sony is notorious for introducing products and then dropping them. Mini-disc or SACD anyone?

          And as for Nikon itself, they made absolutely no promises regarding anything specific. They released more lenses in 2010 than they have since the advent of auto-focus lenses. We’ve been spoiled by DSLR product cycles, but if you go back to the film days, a new generation of the Nikon F series appeared only every 8 to 10 years!

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/shigzeo/ shigzeo

            MiniDisk was never dropped. It remained the top selling micro-portable worldwide till the iPod came out.

            Just because in the USA people drove cars and used CD players instead, does not mean that Europe and Asia was not using it.

            Agree with your other posts, but please read past your own borders. In Sweden, every friend of mine had a MiniDisk. In Japan, the same thing. They were also very popular in Korea, Taiwan, and other parts of Asia and of course, Europe.

            Not sure why the States and Canada never picked up on it.

            SACD? I think the consumer drove that one away. Unnecessary product.

        • Jabs

          @AnNemo.
          Perhaps you were half-joking about your challenges, but they are very easy to refute.
          1. Promises delivered –
          a. D7000 with one of the best DXO scores and 1080 HD video plus excellent high ISO.
          b. D5100 with one of the best sensors and 1080 HD video and articulated screen.
          c. D3100 with great 14meg resolution and LOW price (try pricing a Micro 4/3rds system for a clue).
          d. Numerous lenses and updates not needing mentioning as no one has probably matched them.
          e. Unusual CoolPix bodies that are selling well and even when reviewed have been named the BEST in their class by some web sites.
          f. Mirrorless camera is the only ‘promise’ that I can think of so far and 2011 is still not over yet.

          2) Nikon’s are a bit overpriced. – You get what you pay for – does anyone equal Nikon’s quality!!!

          3) Warranty – Many Companies have this policy and it is designed to prevent the so-called ‘grey market’ – that is things bought abroad from another country and then one now tries to service this in America while none of your purchase price has gone towards their American Subsidiary, so now THEY have to pay for something that they did not profit from – does this make sense to you? Nikon got rid of the different naming of SLR’s in different countries and zones like Canon still does. Have you checked out the YEN’s value compared to the American dollar or the European Euro?

  • broxibear

    There’s something else going on with this story.
    The fact that Nikon have it on their website in the news section is very odd…this isn’t the type of thing most companies would highlight like that.
    The Nikon pr dept have been busy as it’s all over the photographic press too ?
    They’re pretty angry about something.

    • Tony

      Maybe it’s because Samsung is kicking their asses…(in sales though not quality)

      • John

        And sigma is the contractor for the production of samsung lenses…………

    • AnoNemo

      That is waht I am sensing broxibear. Tell me if I am wrong but Japanese companies don’t tend to go down this route.

      One thing I can think of that it the sum is fairly large (approx. $100M or more) and this is material but OTOH I think this is will not bring positive PR for them. Winning the lawsuit is one thing but it can come with nasty mud throwing. I am not sure it is worth it.

      • Tony

        Many of the big guys in companies graduated from US….that’s why (maybe).

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      I agree – this is an unusual news release for Nikon. They also said:

      Although Nikon attempted to resolve Sigma’s patent infringement through negotiation, a non-adversarial resolution could not be reached.

      • AnoNemo

        The way how I see it is that in these circumstance virtually all Japanese companies are negatively impacted and throwing mud is not the nicest thing to do. I think under these circumstances it is counterproductive and will bring bad PR.

        This is why I said that it is disappointing.

        • Ronan

          So what you are saying is when you can’t reach a ‘non throwing mud’ resolution is to give up/take it from behind when someone uses your technology that you patented?

          I’ll be sure to do business with you :)

          • AnoNemo

            No Ronan, what I said is (read between the lines)

            1) It is a bad PR especially after a natural disaster that affected pretty much all Japanese companies to start a mud throwing lawsuit and post it on your website as a great acheivement.

            2) File your lawsuit at the proper authorities but keep your mouth shut! You will have the same results after the court decision …. either you win or lose the case.

            3) Nikon wanted to create bad PR for Sigma with this great announcement (especially when you consider the circumstances). Basically Nikon wanted to damage the reputation of Sigma.

            4) This will definately will have some response from Sigma and I am not sure it will be beneficial for Nikon.

            To sum up, you can sue if you do not have other option but don’t use this for mud throwing. Keep you mouth shut and deliver great products by being ahead of the game.

            • Stepper

              +1

            • gt

              The bad press is probably a way to pressure Sigma to reach a settlement agreement. It’s strategic. 85% of lawsuits never actually reach trial. The complaints get filed but They are settled after discovery. It’s not uncommon to use bad press to improve your chances of getting a favorable settlement.

            • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

              > bad PR.
              It’s also bad PR for Sigma to be infringing on patents. As for the timing of the suit, I believe the issue is statute of limitations. Sigma has been infringing on the two patents for quite some time and has stalled at settling, I believe right up to the point where it wouldn’t be possible to sue them any more.

              > keep it silent
              Nikon is a publicly held company, they can’t keep something that might meaningfully impact their financials silent. Legally, they have to disclose it.

              > Nikon wanting to damage Sigma reputation
              Don’t think so. Regain competitive advantage they thought protected by IP, sure, damage Sigma’s reputation, no.

              > Response
              We’ll see. Nikon’s position is actually fairly solid. There are at least three different approaches to designing VR in the lens that have been patented. Canon uses plain glass for the movement. Olympus uses paired elements. Only Nikon uses positive elements. Well, at least they were the only ones to do that until Sigma copied it. Each style has it’s pluses and minuses, but each is a very unique approach that was invented by different companies. Except Sigma’s approach.

            • paf

              “It’s also bad PR for Sigma to be infringing on patent”

              For both it’s a lose-lose unless Nikon is 200% sure they will win. It is definitely a stab at Sigma’s credibility. Nothing wrong with it but given the publicity big companies throw around their IP cases it doesn’t make them very popular with some people (like me). Actually that is -1 for Nikon for me and -1 for Sigma. Let’s see… does Tamron make cameras? Doh!

              “Legally, they have to disclose it.”
              Yeah, but the disclosure is required for stock holders, all others can sift through public records. It is definitely odd for Nikon. They don’t make the same level of noise when they get sued.

              All it is quite possible that Sigma will lose this one, but the publicity level Nikon makes about this places them in my “apple” category. Nothing against either one of course, it is just that my wallet seems to be negatively charged towards such practices. Same goes for Sigma. Bottom line, too much stink about business as usual.

            • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

              > Nikon 200% sure

              I’d say that’s pretty likely. Again, Sigma is the only one using Nikon’s style of IS patent.

              > Does Tamron make cameras?

              No. But Tamron has an OEM arrangement with at least three large camera makers, including Nikon. Tamron makes under contract some of the 2nd tier lenses for these companies. Obviously there’s cross pollination here, and I’d be surprised if Tamron copied someone’s IS system without licensing it. Indeed, I’d be surprised if such a license wasn’t part of their OEM agreement.

              > Nikon noise level on suits

              To my knowledge, all suits that involve significant value, including ones against Nikon, Nikon has immediately disclosed via news release. You can’t let “others sift through public records” to find it, you’d be sued by shareholders for non-disclosure. Just because something is in a public record doesn’t mean it’s “disclosed.” Since Nikon publicly gives forward financial projections, they have to go public themselves on anything that’s deemed materially significant. US$150m is materially significant. I’m not 100% sure about Japan laws, but in the US it would also be actionable by the SEC to not do so.

              > in the “apple” category

              I assume that you are suggesting that Apple is proactive in suing for IP. Actually, if you look at the current mass of IP suits centered around mobile (phones, pads), Apple is one of the least litigious. Some of their suits are responses against suits brought against them.

              Protecting IP doesn’t necessarily make products more expensive. One could argue that having to sue to protect it might ;~). But the more important thing is that without IP protection, companies would be less likely to invest in new technologies. You’d get fewer interesting and useful techs like VR.

            • Sahaja

              @ Thom “There are at least three different approaches to designing VR in the lens that have been patented. Canon uses plain glass for the movement. Olympus uses paired elements. Only Nikon uses positive elements. Well, at least they were the only ones to do that until Sigma copied it. Each style has it’s pluses and minuses, but each is a very unique approach that was invented by different companies. Except Sigma’s approach.”

              Aren’t we all assuming Nikon is in the right here? Shouldn’t we wait to see if the court agrees and grants Sony their injunction? Or at least to hear Sigma’s side of the story. Perhaps the Sigma implementation is actually different enough to pass.

              BTW what method do Sony use for the VR (whatever they call it) in their E-mount lenses?

      • gt

        the press might be a strategic tool to help them reach a settlement

        • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

          No, as I noted, Nikon is obligated to their shareholders to make such a suit public. Given the size of the settlement requested, it would have meaningful impact on Nikon’s financials.

          • TaoTeJared

            There is the plain fact that it is public record when it is filed.

            • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

              Many of you don’t seem to understand fiduciary duty. Just because a suit is filed and it may be public record (and courts are more private in Japan than they are here in the US), Nikon and other public companies that disclose financial information directly to shareholders have a level of duty to disclose everything, and in a timely and meaningful way. Failure to do so opens them up to both legal and shareholder liability issues.

  • Tony

    Yep. That’s way SD1 doesn’t come wiht F or EF-s mount.

    • Global

      Maybe this is why the new Sigma cam is so expensive. :-P

  • Rx4Photo

    I’m thinking….lawsuits like this don’t happen if the defending company’s product sucks…maybe I should go ahead and buy that Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 OS HSM APO ED bla bla bla lens before the price goes back up.

    • John

      that lens is great if you don’t need a focus limit switch.

    • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

      I doubt that the real underlying issue is F mount lenses. Sigma has now branched out to m4/3, NEX, and NX mount lenses, and Alpha and K mount are also receiving what Nikon perceives to be Nikon IP.

      US$150m is a lot of money. That represents a quarter of Sigma’s last reported yearly sales. I’m pretty sure that the suit now has Sigma’s full attention: stop producing all lenses with OS and pay us a quarter of your sales certainly would get noticed.

      • AnoNemo

        I think Nikon realized that the game is changing. They thought they can fix the price forever but new formats and new players are coming.

        I am thinking about how sony opened up its NEX specs to get lens manufacturers on board.

        • gt

          sigma seems to rely on nikon’s pricing structure when setting their OWN prices. so I don’t think that’s it. For example, look at sigma 70-200mm OS or its 105mm OS. They price their lenses just as exorbitantly as Nikon

          • AnoNemo

            gt – that is the point and Sigma thinks they can use the technology in making NEX lenses for example. I think maybe Nikon is feeling the errosion of its lower end dslr line by m4/3 and NEX systems and does not have a response for the mirrorless at the moment. What can you do, you ask Sigma to pay more which I think could be the case.

            But what do we know … just guessing ;-)

      • broxibear

        Hi Thom,
        The injunction Nikon are seeking would not only stop poroduction of Sigma lenses, but would also force retailers to take stock off their shelves…ouch.
        Here’s a bit of speculation to add to the mix…
        Nikon are doing this now because they’ve just found out that Sony are going to buy into Sigma ?
        Sony have always been criticised for their lack of quality lenses…why not buy Sigma?…Sony are certainly big enough to do it ?

        • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

          Doubtful. And Sony would have deeper pockets to sue than Sigma ;~) Your theory doesn’t fly because it would be a bigger monkey wrench to allow Sony to pay for Sigma and then sue them. As I note, I suspect timing of the suit has to do with statute of limitations. The negotiations have dragged on for a long time without resolution, I’ve heard.

          Nikon certainly went for the jugular, though. An injunction, if granted, would really hurt Sigma. They have only two choices now: go back to the negotiating table in good earnest, or hope the heck they can get the court to rule for them.

        • paf

          “Nikon are doing this now because they’ve just found out that Sony are going to buy into Sigma”

          No, but it’s possible that since Sony opened up their mount Nikon is not wanting Sigma to strengthen Sony’s line up with a set of lenses. After all Sigma is one of the most reputable non-Sony brands that could supply lenses in large quantities. I suspect that Sony’s potential relationship with Sigma has to do with this.

          • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

            I still think this is about protecting their IP, period. That it could migrate to other mounts (already has, I think) is part of the problem, but this dispute long pre-dates Sony coming up with the NEX mount.

    • Ronan

      Wrong, many times a company will sue another company that uses its patented technology if its GOOD or BAD.

      Do you want your precious invention being improperly used? Or maybe of a lower quality that could bring shame to your company?

      Even if SIGMA properly CLONED the technology, it’s still theft.

  • Tony

    Or this could be Nikon master plan in order to takeaway Sigma foveon sensor. I’m sure Nikon can develop it farther.

    • VJ

      This was also the first thing I was thinking… Nikon aiming for a possible settlement which involves the foveon sensor…

  • http://dundermifflin.com dwight schrute

    How is it different from Canon’s Image Stabilization?

    • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

      Canon’s stabilization uses flat glass to do the tilt. That’s a simple method that is cheap to produce and you can put the IS elements almost anywhere in the lens, but it has several downsides.

      Nikon’s stabilization uses positive elements to do the tilt. It’s far trickier to do because you can’t just apply the IS anywhere in the lens design, but it has some side benefits (as well as its own drawbacks).

      The overall “move the lens to adjust for user movement” idea is both obvious and off patent (expired). What’s being disputed is the actual method of making the adjustment, and that doesn’t look good for Sigma, as it appears that they use the same positive lens arrangement as Nikon, which Nikon has two patents on.

  • Ruhtard

    I doubt nikon would take it this far if there wernt theft here.

    • Ronan

      Exactly… Especially from a Japanese company. They even APOLOGIZE to everyone about HAVING to do this because NO other solutions worked out.

      When’s the last time a NA company apologizes for creating a monopoly, sue other companies that did or didn’t do anything wrong?…

      • Stepper

        Wow Ronan, you sound to be quite the fanboy.

        • gt

          Stepper, I think you’re right to be worried about consumers. It means we might get stuck with more expensive lenses.

          that being said, you can’t hold it against Nikon for filing a suit if negotiations didn’t work out. IP theft is IP theft. What else do you want them to do? Every major government has IP laws in place to encourage R&D and entrepreneurship. If companies invested in the development of IP — and then let it slide when others adopted it, they’d be at a financial loss. Nikon is justly filing suit if they believe their patents are infringed

          • Tony

            We are in a bittorrent era. Everyone thinks everything is free.

            • gt

              +1 era of entitlement

            • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

              > Everyone thinks everything is free

              Until they find out that the only jobs left in the US are serving each other at McDonalds or creating IP ;~).

          • Stepper

            I believe that Nikon has every right to pursue this fight but I regret that it has to come down to this.

            The thing that is getting to me from these posts is the number of people on this board who are cheering Nikon on as if NIkon is a knight in shining armour attempting to squash Sigma and it’s evil ways. Intellectual Property laws exist to protect the manufacturers or inventors that hold these properties. They do very little for the consumer. I think if more people understood this then they wouldn’t be screaming hurrah for Nikon. I love Nikon but this situation sucks for everyone.

            • gt

              I see your point, and I also think the “Go Nikon!” posts are a little ridiculous.

              But, to play devil’s advocate, there’s another side to this coin. A sudden burst of cash flow for Nikon could potentially benefit consumers. We might see fewer production delays from Nikon, a more reliable supply chain from Nikon, and possibly new products hitting the market. Manufacture and distribution is costly

            • Darkness

              Do very little for the consumer? Stepper you will not get it will you. Fakes and short cut copies help no-one.

            • Stepper

              Darkness,
              I guess I won’t get it because I see absolutely no correlation between what is being discussed here and low quality “fakes” or “short cut copies”.

              If Nikon or Canon came up with a Foveon type sensor under a different name would that mean that these new sensors are low quality “fakes” ro “short-cut copies”?

              Sigma makes great products. When I was a budding photographer, the Sigma EX line was choice for me since they offered great value for the money (especially in the used market).

            • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

              > [patents] do very little for the consumer

              In a direct fashion, sure. But things are much more complex than that. Patents allow a company to invest in a technology and recover their expenses. A lot of the “good” patents are things that you don’t just pop out of the microwave all ready for consumer consumption. Some take intricate and long gestation to get it to the level where it is ready for consumption.

              We can actually use one of Nikon’s patents to illustrate this: mirrors in the sensor. Nikon’s patent covers a way for a single photosite to not only collect light for all three colors, but to do so without the light absorption issues that impact the Foveon technology. But it involves mirrors that are insanely tiny embedded in the silicon. That’s a process that doesn’t exist in any fab. Of course, Nikon MAKES fabs, so there’s this long, expensive process of trying to get a Nikon-produced fab capable of laying down mirrors along with silicon. We’re talking billions (of yen) in investment and years of work to figure out the details. Nikon simply won’t spend that money if it is possible for Competitor Y to simply wait for Nikon to figure out the details and start producing their knock-off copy. THAT’S what patents are for. And that’s one of the reasons why I think our patent system is currently broken. It currently protects things that are no more than crude ideas and it allows the creation of companies that produce nothing except patents that attempt to catch companies that make real things in an infringement.

  • Rawfile

    Again, all the promises you are eluding too are on Nikon Rumors…. (rumors being the operative word).

    Most of the comments which I have read made no promises (product or timeline); in one Nikon spoke about an EVIL type camera and how they continue to monitor sales and impact of this segment. Nikon has always stated that they are always looking at new technologies and if it is a right fit at the right time they proceed forward with it.

    Again you are stating rumors from Thom Hogan this time. Currently and we can only speak of currently (not rumors), the pricing segmentation that Nikon has is in line with the competition. As far as Sony is concerned they have no clear upgrade path; if I remember correctly they are abandoning the full frame line (yes this is a rumor).
    Olympus has determined that they are no longer going to be manufacturing DSLR cameras and have discontinued all of their current DSLR’s with the exception of their pro model which is way overpriced ($1699) in format, pixel count, dynamic range, and high ISO performance. The market share you are mentioning that these manufacturers have gained is not from DSLR’s but actually include EVIL type products for total market share, since they cannot compete in the classic DSLR arena. If you compare true DSLR systems all of the listed manufacturers have lost market share.

    WOW: warranty…. first off i would be silly to send my lens for repair in Italy if i live in the USA. I purchase all my lenses from valid reputable dealers and have never had an issue with lens repairs as in my 20+ years i have only had one lens that was an issue and that was returned for replacement at the store I purchased it from. Pretty good track record, and a lot better track than i have had with any Sony or Apple product….

    • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

      I’m somewhere in the middle (figuratively and literally).

      First, the Sony thing. The A77 is a poorly kept secret. I no longer regard it as a rumor, though the price might still be construed as a rumor (even that has multiple leaks associated with it).

      Second, Olympus has not determined that they will no longer manufacture DSLRs. Just the opposite, actually (you need to keep up with the ACTUAL executive statements ;~). Their last word was that there would continue to be two 4/3 models in the lineup, the high-end E-5 and a lower-end model that is unspecified at the moment.

      Finally, Nikon executives have made a few specific statements about future products, and acknowledged a few other things that others have said. I wouldn’t regard them as “bold statements” or whatever the heck the original poster wrote that you’re responding to, but Nikon actually said they would introduce an EVIL in their previous calendar year and then did not. I don’t know why that happened, and am still digging to find out what’s going on there.

      But I don’t see this back and forth argument getting either of you anywhere. And it’s not relevant to the subject at hand.

      • Rawfile

        True Thom,
        if Nikon made a concrete statement I stand corrected.
        Obviously I got sucked into a flame war, that had none of the issues at hand.
        Thanks for bringing the conversation back to matters at hand.

      • AnoNemo

        Thank you Thom, that is what I was talking about when I commented about Nikon’s behvaiour as “big mouth” with promises.

        To sum up, my 2c is that Nikon’s communication is terrible.

    • TaoTeJared

      That was one of the most off topic and unwarranted comments I have ever seen. Take your complaints to the mod not the boards.

      Troll:
      One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument. ~Urban Dictionary

      • Rawfile

        LOL, and i fell right into it.
        sometimes I look at the comments and lack restraint at obvious troll tactics.
        my bad

  • Ruhtard

    Stepper is a ruhtard like me.

    • Stepper

      Thanks ruhtard

  • Rich

    That’s unfortunate for Sigma. If Nikon wins it’s possible that Sigma could fold. It was a similar lawsuit that eventually led to the demise of Minolta; over their auto focus system. That combined with their failed Aps film format was what bankrupt them.

  • Darkness

    Nikon tried negotiations, Sigma are doing it to themselves. Can’t wait to see what Nikon will develop with their 150m $ bonus. Thanks Sigma!

    • Rob

      Absolutely. All this talk of competition being good for the consumer is rubbish. If Nikon is losing money it hurts me as I happen to like their product. I’m happy to buy a Sigma lens and have some royalty going to Nikon for their IP. Competition doesn’t equate to theft.

      • jeriko

        You have no clue do you?

        • Rob

          Me or Darkness?

          I love my Sigy 10-20, no VR (sorry OS) needed. So nothing personal against Sigma. Good fortune too whoever wins in court or gets the royalties. At the end of the day I believe the truth will out.

  • Darkness

    If it’s Canon IP why are nt they suing then?

    • jeriko

      Read the previous comments. It’s all spelled out quite clearly.

  • MB

    Obviously the dispute between Nikon and Sigma over this issue has been going for some time.
    Sigma was probably stalling the settlement and Nikon was not so eager to go for lawsuit until now and that is until Sigma started targeting Nikon top cameras with new SD1.

  • Ben Schlockwell

    Good for Nikon, corporate theft is everywhere, I bought a few Sigma lenses in the past, not impressed by that line, too expensive for what you get, Tokina is about the best in 3rd party lenses.
    Sigma stands for significant malfunction.

    • http://www.photosbygregstrong.com DeathK

      “too expensive for what you get”

      Depends on the lens. Gotta do your homework before buying. My 105 F2.8 and 100-300 F4 were worth every penny.

  • Carlos R B

    Now is explained why the sigma SD1s price is 7000usd, they better sell lots and lots of them…LOL

  • TaoTeJared

    I read this and just say ehhh. This is a flash in a pan. And is not a big deal with companies who design products. There are lawsuits going on all the time and negotiations that we never hear about. At one time there were over 100,000 patients on the golf tee. It can be the smallest of things (connections etc) that end up being the infringement part.

    $150 million is chump change when it comes to these lawsuits and Nikon. It looks like Nikon wants the end and is making a fairly reasonable offer. IF they sued them for the usual (Apple/Sony/LG/Samsung/Kodak) $1 billion type amounts that would be different.

    An injunction would be very bad for Sigma but mean nothing else in the meantime.

    Reasonably it will just end in a licencing agreement.

    • Darkness

      Exactly

  • http://iheartcamera.com scurvy hesh

    nothing new here.

    Keep calm, carry on.

  • gt

    Now we know why Sigma charges Nikon-prices for their newest lenses….it’s because they are nikon designs

  • http://www.truphotos.com gnohz

    Off topic, but Admin, according to your experience and past years’ data, when should the first few rumors be out for announcements in August?
    Thanks! :D

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      I think in second half of June I should have some reliable info.

      • http://www.truphotos.com gnohz

        Thanks for the update! :)

  • broxibear

    pdnonline have an interesting piece about equipment shortages in the U.S…

    pdnonline.com/pdn/gear/Photographers-Face-C-2936.shtml

    • broxibear

      P.S. Here in the UK there seems to have been a shipment of some lenses, a few places have the Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, 14-24mm f/2.8G and 24-70mm f/2.8G in stock…how many they got in I don’t know ?
      Even the D3s is in stock at some retailers.
      If you were waiting for items I’d check as they may not hang around for long.
      I told you I post good news when I get it lol.

  • Anonymus Maximus

    Aha !

    That explains the price of the SD1 !!!!

    Sigmas Management decided that by ramping up the price by USD 8000, they will only have to sell 20000 units to pay Nikon and the legal cost!

    Piece of Cake !

  • goose

    and a week ago i started keeping money for the sigma 70-200. fuuuuuuu-

  • kaze kaze

    *yawn*… going back to watch my coffee boil, which, btw is more interesting

  • http://Lawyers Irfan

    A large chunk of that money (if Nikon even wins) will go to lawyers.

  • JoJo

    Ironic, as Nikon’s patents were a working around of Canon’s prior technology!

  • http://www.drewshipley.com Drew Shipley

    From what it appears Nikon’s patent for VR, in a lens application, appears to be US Patent # 4,978,205 (Vibration-isolating optical system) and was awarded to Nikon on Dec 18th, 1990 while Canon’s patent for IS, again in a lens application, appears to be US Patent # 5,040,881 (Image stabilization lens system) and was awarded to Canon on Aug 20th, 1991.

    I haven’t had the time to read through each patent in detail, but since both systems were awarded patents it would make sense that while both patents have the same or similar goals (to prevent an image from blurring due to unexpected lens movement) they both achieve these goals via different methods or means.

    It would also make sense that if Sigma is using the same methods or means as found in the Nikon patent and aren’t licensing (paying for the use of) the technology from Nikon then Nikon would have the grounds to file a lawsuit against Sigma for using Nikon IP without a license from Nikon. Likewise Canon couldn’t file a lawsuit against Sigma unless Sigma was also using the Canon system (which again should operate in a different manner to Nikon’s due to it also holding a separate patent) without a license from Canon.

    Now having said that patents typically have a term of 20 years from the filing date (not the awarded dates I listed above) which means that both of these patents should have expired sometime in 2009. Not being a patent attorney I can’t say what period of time Nikon has to file suit against Sigma after the infringement occurred (I’m guessing it most likely occurred prior to 2009) or if Nikon is filing a suit for infringement of a different patent filed at a later date.

    Has anyone been able to see the actual suit filing by Nikon? This would answer a lot of the outstanding questions.

    • Sahaja

      Also – Is this case filed in a US court or a Japanese court?

    • Iter

      Nikkon should better improve quality of bodys instead of figthing in a law. Nikon have so many problems with OIL DUST, AF PROBLEMS, etc.

  • mocha

    I have a crazy thought.
    Nikon suit Sigma > Sigma lose > Sold Foveon to Nikon > Nikon mass produces it > each body selling $ 1500 – 2000 USD LOL

    It is really hard to predict who will finally win or may be Nikon just try to show how serious of the attitude she looking into this case. I believe they may go to negotiate finally since lawsuit just bring down to a lose / lose situation for both party financially, especially Sigma may not strong enough to bear the risk (I guess).
    But no doubt, Sigma may adjust her ratio of producing lenses between Canon, Nikon, and Sony. If this is so, Sigma should produce more lens for Canon and Sony much more than Nikon. It is still unsure that how serious it will affect Nikon’s sales. For professional line, it is not that serious because most of the pro users use Nikon lenses. However, for the beginner line, some side effect might happened because the Sigma-Nikon bundle may disappear in the future. Then the most benefited party should be Tamron! :P

  • nick

    the way u stay on top is making good product that worth the money, not by lawsuit
    please don’t be sony, nikon. (see what happern to the PSN when Sony being an ass)

  • http://photoartbymark.zenfolio.com photoartbymark

    another off topic are mirror lenses dead, is anyone other than sony making them, or are they not good sellers to produce anymore such as the 500mm or 800mm thanks me

  • Jabs

    From Nikon themselves about VR:
    Partial Quote – Nikon’s first camera with a VR feature was the Nikon Zoom 700VR QD 35mm film compact camera released in 1994. It attracted a lot of attention as the world’s first film camera with an optical VR system. There were camcorders featuring VR functions available at the time, but it was an innovation for film cameras.

    http://imaging.nikon.com/history/scenes/16/index.htm

  • http://legacybegins.com legacy begins

    Wow when I read this all I could think about is no one is safe with their ideas any more. It seems like everybody is out to get everybody else so they can one up them.

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