GoPro claims that Insta360 has violated its patents

GoPro claims that the company that makes the Insta360 range of cameras has violated its patents. The U.S. International Trade Commission is now investigating the matter. Details of the complaint were revealed in a report on the Reuters website.

What has GoPro claimed?

On March 29th, GoPro filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission. The complaint alleges that Arashi Vision Inc. has violated several of GoPro’s patents. Arashi Vision Inc. is the parent company that manufactures the Insta360 range of action cameras. The complaint also sets out the specific patents that GoPro alleges have been infringed. It relates to the importation and sale of “action and 360-degree cameras and systems, as well as camera-mounting systems, frames, and camera-wearable systems.”

What do the patents cover?

GoPro claims that Insta360’s cameras have infringed its patents for the “novel and proprietary SuperView, virtual lens, HyperSmooth, and Horizon Leveling technology.” These features appear on GoPro’s Hero and Max action cameras. SuperView takes a 4:3 aspect ratio video and dynamically stretches it to a 16:9 aspect ratio video. In addition, HyperSmooth is GoPro’s in-camera stabilization and Horizon Leveling keeps the horizon flat while the camera rotates. Insta360 cameras such as the Ace Pro offer similar features called Flowstate Stabilization and 360o Horizon Lock.

What has the Trade Commission done?

The United States International Trade Commission is part of the United States federal government. It investigates the impact of imports on U.S. industries and directs actions against unfair trade practices. The Trade Commission has confirmed that it is investigating the complaint from GoPro. As a result, it has issued a Notice of Institution of Investigation. This also confirms the patents that GoPro believes Insta360 cameras have infringed and sets out the next steps of the investigation.

What happens next?

According to the Notice of Institution of Investigation, GoPro has asked the Trade Commission to issue a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders. These orders would stop Insta360 from importing and selling its cameras in the US. The Trade Commission has also given Arashi Vision Inc. 20 days to respond to the complaint. In addition, the Notice says that if Arashi Vision Inc. doesn’t reply then cease and desist notices could be issued without any further warning.

What we think

Image stabilization and leveling technology might seem standard on an action camera. However, it’s clear that the Trade Commission is taking GoPro’s complaint seriously. As such there must be grounds to consider that Insta360 cameras do infringe on GoPro’s patents. Given that the companies only have 20 days to respond it might appear that a ruling will be given soon. Unfortunately, patent law investigations are often very complicated and technical. In addition, Arashi Vision Inc. has said it is confident that it can defend itself against the complaint. Therefore, we may be waiting a while for a final decision on this case.

Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.

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