Remember when Apple was up in arms about Samsung swiping their look for the first generation of Galaxy phones and tablets? Prepare for a case of design patent infringement that makes that look pretty tame. Today Nikon issued a press release stating that it had won a preliminary sales and import injunction against Sakar International, a current licensee of the Polaroid brand name, for the Android-powered Polaroid iM1836. See if you can guess why.


Yup, that thing is a dead ringer for the Nikon J1, a high-end, compact, replaceable-lens camera that competes with the Micro 4/3 standard. From body shape to color choice to button placement, it's a pretty clear knockoff - even the plastic lip around the lens release button looks similar. Nikon is currently suing Sakar for design patent and trade dress infringement, which is a nice corporate way of saying, "that thing's a knockoff, knock it off the shelves." As of Wednesday Sakar is barred from selling, manufacturing, importing, advertising, or shipping the Polaroid iM1836 in the US pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

Sales injunctions before trial are generally pretty hard to get, so it takes a dramatic case of infringement to score one. The iM1836 would seem to qualify. David Ruddock had some time with the Android-powered camera way back at CES 2013, and according to his hands-on, the odd design decisions, poor software, and questionable build quality made it unworthy of attention. As the kids say: "and nothing of value was lost."

Source: Nikon via Engadget

On October 11, 2013, Nikon Corporation and Nikon Inc. ("Nikon") sued Sakar International, Inc. ("Sakar") in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for design patent infringement and trade dress infringement arising from Sakar's "Polaroid iM1836" digital camera (Case No. 13-Civ-7228 (S.D.N.Y)).

Shortly thereafter, Nikon moved for a preliminary injunction to stop the sales and advertising of the Polaroid iM1836 digital camera. After appearing before the Court, Sakar and Nikon agreed on the terms of a preliminary injunction. The Court thus issued a Preliminary Injunction Order on December 4, 2013 (Eastern Standard Time).

As part of the injunction, Sakar will no longer manufacture, import, advertise, promote, offer for sale, sell, or ship the Polaroid iM1836 digital camera in its present configuration.

The abovementioned design patent and trade dress rights are related to the "Nikon 1" Advanced Camera with Interchangeable Lenses.

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • coreycore

    They both look like cameras to me

    • PhoenixPath

      Exactly, other than both being white and camera-shaped, I'm really not seeing the problem.

      Heck, they aren't even the same white unless the colors are off in the pics.

      • etherspin

        the gray rubberised bit with dots/perforations on it tipped me over

      • TylerChappell

        Who cares, the knockoff version is bound to be a POS device, and no unsuspecting customer should have to put up with buying an inferior, poorly made camera.

        • PhoenixPath

          Yay! We all get the name-brand, high-quality one at knock-off prices!!


          Yeah. There's a reason those 'knock-offs' exist.

          (...and I still don't see how its a copy, but hey...it takes all kinds.)

          • TylerChappell

            The reason they exist is so that you can buy the cheap POS, and learn the hard way that you get what you pay for when it breaks down and you have to replace it, giving the crappier company even more of your money than what you would have if you had bought the better camera in the first place.
            Not to mention the fact that Polaroid is DEAD. All that survives of them is the name, and it's being used by other no-name companies to make products that people think is a quality Polaroid product when it really isn't.

          • Cowboydroid

            So let them fail in the market. We don't need governments deciding who gets to succeed and who gets to fail.

          • PhoenixPath

            So when exactly did Polaroid shit in your cereal, mate?

          • TylerChappell

            Lol, I always love the shit in the cereal comments. :P But at no point in particular. However, I did have to do two presentations in entrepreneurship classes about why Polaroid was such a failure. And let's face it, when it comes to cameras, Polaroid started giving everyone the middle finger in the 1990's, and now they are dead because of it. Good riddance to them and their cameras.

        • Cowboydroid

          But if they do want to, then they should have a right to.

    • Michael J Carroll

      That's exactly what I was thinking. How many different designs for a camera can there be? How many designs are still left that would make sense to use?

      • WalkinOnBottles

        A red one, a blue one, a sphere, a square, a parallelogram, one with no flat edges, etc... There are a variety of designs left.

        This isn't about "no more camera designs left" it's blatant copying sorry. Having a white body, black lens, extremely flat top, silver/aluminum buttons, etc. the similarities are TOO similar.

        Just lazy designs.

        • Gabernasher

          Google "DSLR and look at the image search, tell me the Sony looks different from the Canon which has substantial differences from the Nikon. Go ahead and tell me a lie.

          • WalkinOnBottles

            Just because companies are sticking to a certain look, doesn't mean that there's no more ideas. Also the Sony one has a ridge on the handle, the nikon one has a red triangle where the Sony ridge is, the Sony one is a gray color that pops less than the nikon shiny aluminum, etc.

            I guess people such as yourself are looking for reasons that lack of any innovative design is OK.

          • Gabernasher

            The Polaroid doesn't have a silver ring around the lens, also it's not white, also the shutter button is raised. This sales ban is ridiculous.

        • shabbypenguin

          Except here is the back of them, completely different designs.

    • Kam Siu

      and you are certainly correct. mirrorless cameras are next evolution of dslr cameras which they in between point&shoot and professional dslr, there's only so much you can do with design to differentiate them.

      see here look at canon's new M2

  • antifud

    design patents are no less BS than any other form of patent. same issue as always: suing competition to prevent competition. Just like apple's "rounded corners" crap. Meanwhile, 100% sure that "White camera" is not even valid as part of a design patent.

    Beyond that, all cameras are going to be shaped similarly.

    • HopelesslyFaithful

      "design patents are no less BS than any other FORM OF PATENT."

      well that is a dumb thing to say. What is the point of spending lots of money designing something if someone can copy it? Why take risk...just wait and copy. Your naiveness is scary and shows you do not understand product design or progress. If there is no gain why would you try to great something great?

      Bravo post of the day! Glad you don't have any way of influencing policy because you would cripple technology and the economy with your wisdom -_-

      • Cowboydroid

        Why take risk? Because the first to market usually makes the first profit. And they don't need an artificial monopoly to make a return on their risk.

        You don't understand actual economics if you think artificial monopolies are necessary to incentivise productivity.

        Technological progress is already crippled due to the artificial monopolies bestowed by patents.

        • HopelesslyFaithful

          have you ever written a patent? Have you ever tried to write one? Have you ever studied patent law? I have. It is clear you have no clue what your talking about. There is one device designed by IBM that was probably one of the most innovative devices i have ever seen but they couldn't get it patented. It is probably one of the reasons why they abandoned the project. If it was designed with today's technology it would be epic but the cost of trying to make it to its fullest extent would be huge. Hence why they never continued with the project. If you read the patent they wrote along with the videos and documentation of the product it is awesome but there is no reason to waste the reasons to great one of the best form factors i have ever seen because someone could simple copy it after you have full designed it. The amount of work that prototype too was huge. It was clearly a decade before it's time. I am 99% of people here have never heard or seen it. All i can recall is one single site still up reporting on it. Have fun and google it. I'll give you a few hints. A product like this is exactly why patent law exists and they tried like ~9 years to get it patented and never could! It is by far the most unique computer idea in the last 20 years.

          It is truly amazing how people are this naive. This is one form factor that will never see the light of day in the near future without being patented due to cost.

          So one word.....Metapad...google it and stop being dumb

          BTW in today's world with the concept of that computer you could destroy competitors if you could own it but again....investment is too expensive. The possibilities with that thing are near limitless.

          • Cowboydroid

            An open source text editor?


            Are you trolling me dude!

          • HopelesslyFaithful

            what are you talking about?

  • Mark

    Not seeing it myself. Two white cameras with similar form factor.

    Like saying a red Fiat 500 and a red Mini are the same because the are both red, had 4 wheels and are of a similar size.

  • TSON1

    Of course the button placement is the same... it's a camera. The only thing these cameras have in common that's not commonplace is a color scheme. And even then, we laughed at T-Mobile for suing people over magenta, I don't think suing over black and white is okay either.

  • jak_341

    Not seeing it. Do Do they look similar? Yes. Enough for a sales ban? Nope.

    • moelsen8

      yeah me too.. they both kind of look like cameras.

      • Brad

        maybe if they made theirs black or something... or didn't use the same shape... or moved a button or two

        • Jaime

          The Nikon doesn't even have a settings wheel, and the shutter is always in the right side of the camera. Also look at their backs. The don't really look alike unless you count the white color and the fact that both are cameras.

  • TheLastAngel

    If anything, they both rip off Leicas iconic design.

  • Mystery Man

    Glad this kind of crap doesn't happen in the automobile industry. 2014 Ford Escape / 2014 Honda CRV. Mistibushi Lancer Evo / 2013+ Dodge Charger (front end), etc, etc

  • Kam Siu

    i'm glad my tax money is at work here. good grief if i ever walked into a shady store and the sales clerk removed all the brand labeling off their merchandise and sold me a look a like.

  • http://farukahmet.blogspot.com/ Faruk Ahmet

    I don't really understand the gleeful tone in the article. Why would AP be so giddy about this, and take sides? "Polaroid's camera was not any good anyway" So what? That's a poor and dishonest excuse to dismiss the case without even the slightest consideration of a broader perspective, if you ask me. They look different enough, especially when you look at their backs—there isn't even a hint of similarity there. Nikon also lacks the protruding settings wheel of Polaroid's, which is prominent enough on its own to tell them apart visually. And "button placement"? They put the shutter button on the right side? Those bastards!

    Come on.

    • smeddy

      This. AP if you're gonna be on the side of the trolls for once, you need to explain your reasoning better.

      • anytime876

        It's not AP, it's mr. Rice. The same guy who wrote the snarky article about vsco cam. He has a habit of putting easy too much of his opinion into news.

        • http://twitter.com/anishbhalerao Anish Bhalerao

          Bitch VSCO was shit. Jeremiah got that one spot on.

          • ScratchC

            im loving VSCO I'd say i disagree. .
            on my Galaxy S4 I get way better results with it than thw default cam.
            add the fact i can actually focus on things up close with VSCO Cam as opposed to every other app I've tried

  • Keith

    Put the lens on top... or the back... or the side. Problem solved.

  • Cuvis

    They both look like every other digital point-and-shoot from the last ten years.

    • guidomus_maximus

      I agree. This seems ridiculous. Next thing you know some cars manufacturer will patent 4 wheels and engine and 4 doors and will want to ban the sale of all similar cars like it that are white.

      • Gabernasher

        Fuck that. I'm going to patent it before them and sue em all. See you in Dubai from the 112th floor bitches.

  • smeddy

    I don't see it

  • Freak4Dell

    I love Nikon, but this is just stupid. They make DSLRs that looks exactly like DSLRs from every other DSLR maker. You don't see them getting sued over it.

  • Chris Caldwell

    Hey, isnt Obama gonna step in and save Polaroid like he did for poor old Apple?

  • Delinka

    That's a load of bull, most cameras have their lens, shoot button etc in the same place and like coreycore rightly said they both look like cameras so unless it has become a crime to make your camera the same colour as that of your competition then this whole case is ridiculous.

  • dan

    This is freakin' stupid. The similarities between those two devices are no worse than the similarities between any Nikon dslr and any Cannon dslr. This makes me ashamed to own a Nikon.

  • Robin C. M. Staple

    They just look like cameras. How different can cameras look? This is ridiculous...

  • http://www.marketsandpatents.com/design-patent.php Mark Nowotarski

    Nikon's design patent D692,044 has nothing to do with button placement or camera color. It's focused (pun intended) on the overall shape of the camera body. See the image below. This is what makes design patents so strong. You can identify a particular design element, protect that element, and forget about the rest. Here's an article on how Apple used this strategy to protect the iphone. “Strong Design Patents: The Power of the Broken Line”. http://bit.ly/strongdesignpatent1