Over the summer, GoPro released the Hero4 Session, a camera that represented the first dramatic departure from the traditional GoPro form-factor. Instead of a little rectangular box, it was a little cubic box. It was a pretty good camera, though far from GoPro’s best. Regardless, Polaroid, or rather the company that has licensed the name Polaroid, is none too happy about it, claiming the Session ripped off the Polaroid Cube, released last year. This week, it announced it would sue GoPro for all of the money earned from sales of the Hero4 Session, plus damages.
It’s pretty ambitious and honestly, feels like a desperate move.
C&A Marketing, the company who licensed Polaroid’s name to make the Polaroid Cube, has a rather basic and ethereal patent for “the ornamental design for a cubic action camera…” which essentially describes a cube-shaped camera with rounded edges. It has a lens pointing one way, and a shutter button on top. GoPro, for its part, also has patents for this sort of thing, but Polaroid’s pre-dated GoPro’s filing by one day.
Here’s what GoPro sent Outside when we contacted them about the lawsuit:
GoPro has been developing the HERO4 Session for years. This research and development led GoPro to file for numerous patents to protect these innovative features, including United States Patent No. 8,992,102 which was granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on March 31, 2015. This patent was filed before a competitor announced its product at CES in January of 2014. This shows that GoPro was working on HERO4 Session well before the competitor filed for its patent, which covers its own product—not GoPro's. In addition to developing the HERO4 Session long before a competitor announced its product or filed for a patent, the HERO4 does not infringe the competitor’s patent because its overall design is not similar and does not include the specific features that are required by the competitor’s patent.
I’ve tested both cameras and can tell you they’re totally different. I actually wouldn’t call the Polaroid Cube an action camera. It’s only “water resistant” (read splash-proof), it has a very short battery life, limited shooting modes, and sub-par image quality. The Hero4 Session is waterproof to 33 feet without a case, has excellent battery life, a great variety of shooting modes, and pretty good image quality. It also has far more mounting options. The higher specs are reflected in the price: the Cube costs $100 while the Hero4 Session is $300.
We’re guessing the lawsuit won’t go anywhere. The news does, however, come at a bad time for GoPro: the company just announced that the Session hasn’t been selling well. Its stock has also taken a hit in recent weeks amidst the forecast for a slower-than-usual Q4.