Nikon patent infringement lawsuit against Sigma dismissed by Tokyo District Court


Back in 2011 Nikon filed a patent infringement lawsuit in Japan against Sigma over lenses with VR technology. Jiji Press reports today that Tokyo District Court dismissed Nikon's claims of patent infringement. Nikon was looking for a compensations of 12 billion yen (around 130 million dollars). The lawsuit was based on six Sigma lenses with image stabilization technology.

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  • If anyone in Japan has a better source/link, please post it in the comments section.

    • Aweather
    • Aweather
      • Thanks, this is exactly the same text as the link I provided.

    • timon_comment

      In very long period Sigma has been not pay royalties, and the Sigma lens’s AF drive device are through with the reverse crack means.

      Sony in hybrid AF and lens compensation can be through the firmware way to prevent some piratic behavior.

      Unlike Sigma, We did not hear bad reputation at Tamron or other Japanese lens makers.
      (Tamron’s biggest customer is Sony, and Sony is also a second big Shareholder).

      • timon_comment

        Jiji Press report is not fully correct. Though the Tokyo District Court’s one ruling is against Nikon’s one request, but the case is not over yet.

        Nikkei Nws 2013/1/30 22:31

        Nikon proceeded against Sigma and the two patents have been infringed. Tokyo District Court is hearing the two law cases of relating Nikon and Sigma, another hearing is continuing in

        Read more,

        • This post is from 2011, the court decision was from yesterday.

      • jake

        well, I am sure Tamron is paying royalities to Sony , Nikon and Canon.

        • jake

          oh and one more , Nikon is very close to Tamron , everybody knows it here but Sigma is not close to Nikon.
          some cheap Nikon zooms are Tamron designs and the 105f2.8VR might also be included in the list here.
          maybe this is why the AFS105f2.8VR micro is not as good as the old AF DC105f2.

  • Dan

    so if my camera getting dust on sensor, will Nikon sue me for patent infringement of their D600?

  • Aweather
  • Nikon Shooter

    Thank God. I sure as hell would not want to see any corporation monopolize such vital technology. Whether Sigma stole the technology is irrelevant. We as a consumer would suffer in the end while Nikon’s shareholders are the ones benefiting from the disappearance of a major competitor (or competitors had Nikon decided to come after everyone.)

    • timon_comment

      you should say that —– Thank God. I sure as hell would not want to see any corporation monopolize such vital technology. Whether others stole our technology to be irrelevant with me.

      Certainly, maybe you are no any technology to be possibly stolen.
      or, maybe your company stole technology from others?

    • iamlucky13

      That’s kind of an uncivil attitude: Who cares if they did something wrong, I’m only worried about what helps me the most.

      Don’t confuse what benefits you with what is right.

      Besides, you seem to vastly overstate the impact on you. If Sigma lost, what would most likely happen is they would negotiate an agreement with Nikon to continue using the patented technology in exchange for royalties. This happens all the time, and is for example what happened in the big fight between Apple and Samsung over whether waving your fingers over an electronic device like some kind of witch doctor is patentable.

      And at the heart of this is the ultimate reason patents exist: in the long run, it benefits you for the law to encourage innovation by allowing innovators to patent devices for a certain amount of time, so that innovators can be more reasonable certain their hard work won’t be undercut. The compromise is that innovative designs often are not cheap when they first come out, but in theory, more innovation occurs because of it.

  • Photoretouchpro

    I was hoping nikon would win so their lens prices would go down. Yeah right.

    • umeshrw

      The history shows that when there are more players in the field all have to work hard and keep prices down to get ahead which is good for us. In a monopalized market we are screwed. Imagine if canon was not there.

      • instantkamera


      • Photoretouchpro

        Yeah, I just meant to say end users would likely not see any benefit of their winning the multi-million dollar case.

    • Sahaja

      If they won, Nikon lens prices would be more likely to go up than to go down since there would be less competition

  • Fry

    Good. Patents are BAD. Patents inhibit innovation.

    • Ummagumma

      What a boneheaded statement. Technological innovation requires huge investments. Without patents, there is no reason to invest because anybody can just wait whether the technology works and then copy it while applying only a fraction of the innovator’s investment. Thus, without patents, anybody would sit on their asses and wait for others to burn themselves.

      As long as patents are limited both in time and scope, there is enough time for the innovator to earn a sufficient return on investment AND enough chance for competitors to move into the new niche. Which is exactly what SIGMA has done. Nikon wanted to broaden the scope of their patent protection and failed in court.

      The patent system thus worked as intended: We all enjoy stabilized lenses today and the competition of 3rd party manufacturers. Good times.

    • Remedy

      Tell that to all those who are being robbed by chinese fake fags who copycat everything they can. They don’t spend money on research and stuff like that, they just steal from others and make money with zero effort. Good job sir, idiotic thinking at it’s best.

    • timon_comment

      Copyright Law and Privacy Protection Act are BAD, you and your family photos must be abuse-able by others.

      • Fry

        Show me a PATENTED photo. please.

        • iamlucky13

          Photos are copyrighted. Related, but distinct form of protection.

          • Fry

            that’s my point. When corporations are allowed to patent vaguely described IDEAS – not exact implementations – then these patents DO inhibit innovations.

    • Fry

      for the patent fanbois:

      Google and Apple Spent More On Patents Than R&D Last Year

      • Ummagumma

        Now I think you’re just trolling… (“Nikon copied Zeiss”).

        But for the interested reader, the article “Fry” should’ve _quoted_ says “Last year, for the first time, spending by Apple and Google on patent lawsuits and unusually big-dollar patent purchases exceeded spending on research and development of new products, according to public filings.”

        1. “For the first year”… (hardly an ongoing trend)
        2. “Apple and Google” (at war in the internet universe, I thought we were talking about photography and Nikon
        3. “spending on patent lawsuits AND UNUALLY BIG_DOLLAR PATENT PURCHASES”… (did you even read the article?)

        Being able to trade patents is one of the system’s pillars: Companies that excel in research but can’t/won’t enter into large scale production can sell their patents to manufacturers which, again, means more products.

        • Fry

          please, educate yourself about patent “purchases”

          • Anonymous Coward

            From the wikipedia article you linked:

            “On the other hand, the ability to buy, sell and license patents is seen by some as generally productive. The Wall Street Journal argued that by creating a secondary market for patents, these activities make the ownership of patents more liquid, thereby creating incentives to innovate and patent.[22][35] Patent Licencing Entities also argue that aggregating patents in the hands of specialized licensing companies facilitates access to technology by more efficiently organizing ownership of patent rights.[36][37]”

            • Fry

              ..and those patented rounded corners on iPhones are a good example what those incentives to innovate and patent bring. How could we even live without them ? 😀

            • iamlucky13

              There are absurdities that arise from the patent system, in particular because the US Trademark and Patent office has lost touch with the meaning of “non-obvious,” which is one of the requirements for issuing a patent.

              The does not mean the basic idea of patents is flawed.

              And while round corners are pretty freaking obvious, figuring out how to use a combination of accelerometers, microprocessors and electromagnetic actuators to reduce optical projection variations in moving camera is not obvious.

            • King of Swaziland

              Image stabilization techniques are old. Current technology is generally pretty derivative of this old stuff (and thus ought not to be patentable, unless it includes something non-obvious).

            • iamlucky13

              Not being privy to the exact designs, I suspect you are correct. My post is intended to defend patents in general, not support Nikon’s claim. After all, the judge who was privy to the details didn’t think Nikon’s suit had merit.

              Note, however, that while the original patent may have expired, Nikon can still make improvements and patent only those parts that substantially differ from what was previously patented

              In such case, a company like Sigma can still use the expired technology, and even make their own improvements to it, providing those improvements don’t infringe on whatever Nikon claimed in their newer patents.

    • Tobi

      Yes this is a stupid statement.. quote from Obadiah Stane:
      [to Stark] “You really think that just because you have an idea, it belongs to you?”

      • iamlucky13

        Not inherently, but exercising our democratic rights, we implemented a law that gives the person who came up with the idea, subject to various restrictions, exclusive rights to profit from the idea for a limited period of time.

    • Aldo

      oh my… this is even worse than the canon trolls lol.

  • gly

    I knew Nikon wasn’t going to win. There was no patent infringement because the Sigma OS was better. Haa! It’s time for Nikon to get off their a–es and make something worthy.

    • Remedy

      Feel free to sod of to canonrumors, don’t you have 5D mkIII upper screens to duct tape to?

      • js200022

        Well, at least the duct tape fixed the problem on the 5DM3. We still don’t have a solution for the D800 left focus problems that many owners are complaining about.

        • le_el

          not only left focus problems, there is also an issue about green shift LCD and, according to some, the image itself is too greenish. they must address these issues on the D900.

          • gsum

            Leel and js – can’t you find something original to say or at least just slightly amusing? What a pathetic troll. Our cat could do better than that.

            • Arkasai

              I’ve just been assuming all these people are being sarcastic, I mean you cant go months doing the same song and dance over and over without it becoming a self parody. All of these manufacturing defects people keep dragging back up from the grave is pretty annoying. No one cares about 5DMIII light leaks or D800 left focus, if you did you’ve already found a way around it so why are people still complaining for the sake of complaining?

            • jake

              because they don’t own it or any serious camera but complain about it to feel a bit more present.
              I think most of D600 does not even have the dust issue from start and many D800’s are riskfree , my 3rd one and 4th one (first one and second ones were returned)have no known issues at all, just perfect.

          • Sebastian

            the image itself is too greenish? WHAT? WTF?

            • jake

              actually if you ever converted D800E RAW via Adobe LR4.3 , you know its images are actually a bit too reddish than greenish.
              so, I guess you are just trolling, you have never used this camera, have you?

        • Aldo

          so bad it can’t even be called a troll… more like a wannabe troll

        • jake

          well, it is already fixed.
          my first D800 and D800e had the issue and I returned them but my third one bought in last Dec was perfect from start.
          so it is fine now.
          and the D600 dust issue is already gone , mine has no issue at all.

    • St.

      gly, it seems you don’t have any clue…
      plus, accusing Nikon in not doing anything – isn’t the new VRIII (presented in the new 70-200mm f/4) offering you 5 stops advantage??? Who else, dear, makes such thing?

      • gly

        Open your eyes and look at the big picture and maybe you’ll get it.

  • Evangelo

    Sigma , must be doing something …. really GOOD …..

    • ronadair

      Or the average weekend warrior soccer moms don’t have a very good standard to measure what is…really GOOD…

      Just sayin’

      • roy

        Their recent lenses are creating some noise… just look up

      • 5DollarFootlong

        my 120-300 2.8 > 70-200 vr II
        Sigma 35mm 1.4 > Nikon 35 1.4
        150mm Sigma 2.8 > Nikon 105 VR


        • kerry33

          i would pick 120-300 2.8 over nikon 70-200 vr anytime for my D700. its super sharp and better bokeh due to longer range. i used to be sceptical about third party lens. but hey, some of their pro grade lenses especially long range telephoto are superb

          • I tried the 120-300 in V1 body and is a telescope! :p

  • Eric Calabos

    ok, dont cry Nikon. you will grow up and forget that
    the thing you shouldn’t forget is D400

  • Sports

    Nikon should lay off their lawyers and hire some more developers that can actually create something

    • timon_comment

      Jiji Press report is not fully correct. Though the Tokyo District Court’s one ruling is against Nikon’s one request, but the case is not over yet.

      Nikkei Nws 2013/1/30 22:31

      Nikon proceeded against Sigma and the two patents have been infringed. Tokyo District Court is hearing the two law cases of relating Nikon and Sigma, another hearing is continuing in

      Related Topics

      • timon_comment

        Nikkei News also said “ニコンは控訴する方針” ,

        Nikon will appeal to superior court related to the Tokyo District Court’s one ruling.

    • Ronan

      Nikon has been creating a lot… Your comment is much more appropriate toward Apple.

  • Albert Hu

    Can I have any compensation with my D600 issue?

    • jake

      just return your current one and buy a new one , I am sure almost all D600’s are riskfree and clean by now.
      mine was made in last Dec according to Nikon and it is fine (no dust even at F22).

  • Bratislav ILIC

    Nikon should have presented their case in US, there one could easily prove that using 77 mm filter thread is patent infringement.

    • timon_comment

      Sigma should move to NKorea, there one could easily copy any patent technology but not patent infringement.

  • Glad Sigma are not attempting to infringe on Nikon’s QC patents.

    • jake

      good one!

  • TCP

    Just the beginning of patent infringement more to follow…. Glad its going in Sigmas favor

  • Wondering Why

    Does anyone know what was the basis of the dismissal? Its quite clear that SIGMA is a “copy cat” company. They are not well-known for innovation. Did the judge rule that there was prior art, that they changed it significantly, or that Sigma made some new technology entirely? I want to know why wasn’t Nikon given a chance to prove their case in court?

    • iamlucky13

      The machine translation was really rough, but as far as I can make from it, the judge concluded there was enough differences between how Sigma achieved stabilization and what Nikon actually has patented that Sigma’s method did not fall within the scope of the patent.

      I would not quote me on that, however. Wait until someone more familiar with both the ruling and the Japanese language can provide a better report.

  • jake

    seriously is it sage to buy the Sigma 35mmf1.4 for the D800 ?

  • Sahaja

    I’m sure Nikon can afford more expensive lawyers than Sigma – so if the court says Sigma’s lens stabilization method doesn’t infringe on Nikon’s patents, then it doesn’t.

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