Nikon Sues Polaroid, Claims the iM1836 Infringes on the Design of the 1 Series


It’s not uncommon for cameras to look similar in this day and age. Even the Sony A7 and A7r, which haven’t even been released yet, are being described as “OM-D-like” by rumor sites. But at what point does “similarity” cross the line to “infringement.”

Well, if you need an example, just take a look at Polaroid’s iM1836, because Nikon is filing a lawsuit against the company and camera manufacturer Sakar International over just that.

Considering that both times we’ve covered the iM1836 — when it was first announced and when we got our mitts on it at CES — we felt the need to point out how ridiculously similar it looked to Nikon’s 1-series ILCs, we shouldn’t be surprised that Nikon is suing Polaroid for infringement.


According to a press release, Nikon “negotiated amicably” with Sakar behind the scenes to try and solve this problem outside of court, but the manufacturer would have none of it, and so the Japanese company has been forced to get litigious.

“Nikon makes a great effort to create designs that can be differentiated from other companies’ products,” explains the press release, “as well as to strongly deter the imitation of its designs.”

The camera company is seeking an injunction against Sakar for “infringement of the design patent and trade dress right” of the Nikon 1 series. If upheld, the injunction would prevent Sakar from further production or sale of the Polaroid iM1836. Although, to be honest, we’re not sure how well it was selling in the first place.

(via Engadget)

  • Adam Cross

    it’s a camera… they all. look. the same.

  • Genkakuzai

    Not really no.

  • Mario Liedtke

    You accidently or unfortunatly compared to the J3. The J1 has exactly looking Hooks for the Neckstrap and that makes the Polaroid looking like a 1:1 clone much more!

  • Mark O’Brien

    It’s not the real Polaroid…someone bought rights to the name, but it has no connection at all with what used to be based in Mass., USA. So, it’s a third-rate brand, and now if nobody had even seen their camera, they now know about it.

  • DLCade

    We went ahead and changed the picture :)

  • Rob S

    So I guess Contax can sue every DSLR maker because they all look like the Contax S?

    And Leica can sue both Nikon and Polaroid because both cameras resemble this:

    1913 Leica prototype. Me things they have prior art on you Nikon.

  • Sam

    While they are at it why not sue Sony for making the RX1 which looks similar and has a “1” in the name. This is so ridiculous.

  • Dee

    When i saw this Sakar camera i thought they just copied Nikon J1 camera, it’s not just the shape but the details, i don’t like lawsuits like this, but in this case i’m with Nikon, Sakar copied the industrial design of J1 Camera.

  • NancyP

    No one would care if Polaroid had brought out the camera in black only. The colors are a relatively important part of the Nikon design. On another topic, why don’t designers add small grips?

  • Adam Cross

    oh, it has rounded corners… give it all the design awards ¬_¬

  • Adam Cross

    Canon have lots of colours, too. I wouldn’t say colour is particularly Nikon.

  • Rob S

    Sure if you look at the right angle they are similar. But what about from the other angles?

    J1 top – two buttons flush
    Polaroid – One button and a dial that protrudes on three sides

    J1 back – 2 dials and a bunch of buttons on the right side, screen flush left
    Polaroid back – No buttons, touch screen only, centered screen

    Just because it uses rounded corners and has strap connections doesnt make it a copy. And really, is ANYONE going to accidently buy a Polaroid when the really thought they were buying a Nikon? If they did was that REALLY a potential Nikon customer? Sorry but the Polaroid looks like a cell phone with a lens on it….because its a cell phone with a lens on it.

  • Dee

    I don’t think anyone will buy a Sakar camera because they thought it’s a Nikon, but that is not the issue here, Nikon worked in a design and they think that Sakar copied it, that is just plagiarism, it’s not right, and in this case it is for me so obvious even if there are different details.

    Just go back to the posts in the blogs about the announcement of the Sakar camera, you’ll read many comments saying that it looks like a Nikon.

  • Rob S

    First off, plagiarism is not a crime and you cannot sue for it. Copyright infringement is a crime and you can sue for it.

    Further what is at issue here is intellectual property rights and even further “Trade Dress.” In the United States the Lanham Act is the foundation for trade dress law and it specifically addresses “appearance of products that are designed to imitate other products; to prevent a consumer from buying one product under the belief that it is another” so at least as far as US law is concerned, the fact that someone might buy a Polaroid thinking it was a Nikon is part of the consideration.

  • Rob S

    Pentax has more colors than Canon, Nikon and Polaroid put together. If color is the standard, Pentax is due for some bank.

  • greenarcher02

    Still no… Have you seen some recent Pentax cameras?

  • greenarcher02

    The RX1 doesn’t look similar. This one probably has the same dimensions. Even the lugs are the same.

  • greenarcher02

    Aesthetics. For Nikon, it’s a place for that huge “1”. For Sakar.. I have no idea.

  • delayedflight

    It doesn’t matter.
    The fact of the matter is Nikon believes that the camera looks similar enough to have consumers buy it thinking that it was associated with them.
    The question you have to ask yourself is would the average person who does not know about cameras be able to tell that it was a completely different product belonging to Sakar? Was Sakar willfully designing their product to look like it was associated with Nikon’s J series?

    If I was Nikon I’d probably sue too their product looks way too similar to mine hell aside from the body the lens looks similar too.

  • Rob S

    Well at least according to US law it absolutely matters.

    “The average person who doesnt know about cameras” is an interesting standard. One would assume that they would buy either on price or features. In that case it would be a split. The Nikon cost less but the Polaroid has WiFi and Android. You know the kind of stuff someone who didnt know much about cameras would be concerned with. On the other hand if they were going only on brand name Nikon will win every time. Oh and google “Nikon J1 vs Polaroid iM1836″ (again the kind of thing someone who doent know about cameras would do) and the top hit says buy the Nikon. Ands its not even close. ( So it seems it would be very easy to not be confused. And remember, while the Nikon is available at retail stores like Target and Costco the Polaroid is hard to find online and then only from dodgy sites.

    As for lenses looking the same…..really? Show me significant differences between a Nikon, Pentax, Canon, Sony, Tamron and Sigma lens at say 50mm. How about 70-200 f/2.8? heck how about just 18-55mm kit lenses. THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME! Now if you KNOW lenses its easy to tell them apart and not just the white Canon ones. But put them in front of your “average” consumer and they will not be able to tell which belongs to which mount.

    Nikon may win the battle but lose the war because they probably gave Polaroid more free advertising in the last 24 hours than they paid for in the last year. And if I am Polaroid during discovery I request the details on who REALLY makes Nikon cameras and threaten to expose that they really come out of factories where “Nikon” just one of many brands. This will get ugly fast.

  • Genkakuzai

    Yeah that’s not quite how it works I’m afraid. Whether you like the design or not is completely irrelevant.

  • Adam Cross

    i’m not saying I like the design at all. what I’m saying is there is nothing revelatory about Nikon’s design, nothing they could sue over. Does this mean Sony can sue Samsung if one of their televisions look alike? it’s all a bit ridiculous.

  • tttulio

    Why would anyone copy the Nikon1?
    It only sells because it has Nikon printed on it.

  • Antti-Jussi Heilala

    The world is full of design copies. And most of the copies have not been sued. I would like to buy this Polaroid 1836 if someone has one.