RED’s Lawsuit Against Nikon Dismissed: Z9 Gets to Keep Compressed RAW

Red vs Nikon

RED’s lawsuit against Nikon for infringing on its video compression patents has been dismissed, effectively giving Nikon permission to continue allowing compressed internal RAW video recording in its cameras.

Last May, RED sued Nikon for illegally copying its data compression technology in the Japanese camera company’s massive 2.0 firmware update for the Z9 camera. The lawsuit claimed Nikon had infringed on seven of its patent that dealt specifically with “a video camera that can be configured to highly compress video data in a visually lossless manner.”

The following September, Nikon snapped back and challenged the veracity of RED’s patents, going so far as to argue they should never have been granted in the first place. Nikon admitted it was aware of multiple lawsuits that RED had filed in the past against other companies for similar infractions, but added that the claims that RED brought forward in those cases were “invalid” as they did not “satisfy the conditions of patentability.”

Today, the two companies agreed to a Rule 41 dismissal without prejudice, effectively ending the lawsuit.

Case Dismissed

“A Rule 41 dismissal can mean a lot of things, so it’s pretty vague. Most relevant is that it was a joint dismissal, so both parties signed off, and it’s one without prejudice, which means if something happens in the future it can be brought back to court,” Thomas Maddrey, the Chief Legal Officer and Head of National Content and Education at the ASMP tells PetaPixel.

Of note, a Rule 41 dismissal means that the two companies came together and agreed on something, Maddrey explains. While the public will likely never know what the two companies determined, given the money that was probably already spent to hire very well-known law firms on both sides, the two parties definitely decided that whatever agreement they could reach was better than the cost of going through with the litigation.

When asked if this had the potential to affect cases in the past and future, Maddrey says it’s possible.

“For other companies who might look at this case, it would only make sense that if you have a blueprint to a settlement in front of you, which this could possibly be, you would follow up on it — as long as the previous battles were not dismissed with or without prejudice,” he explains.

“Once a settlement has been reached no matter which side promotes the agreement, almost every one of them will include some line that says you can’t sue for it again. So it is more likely to affect future litigation than past litigation, but companies will definitely take notice of it.”

Some Possible Explanations

YMCinema speculates that Nikon may have agreed to pay RED for the rights to use the patent, but considering that was what Nikon was attempting to avoid through its counterarguments against RED, that seems unlikely.

But there is another possibility.

RED’s attorneys likely would not want the case to go to court if there was any doubt that the patent wasn’t going to hold up. By dismissing the lawsuit, RED gets to keep its patent on the books. So while it could be that Nikon paid RED a royalty, it is just as likely that it could have been that RED didn’t want Nikon to pursue the case further to avoid the possibility of weakening its patent. If one court says a patent is invalid, that would have cascading effects.

Whatever the reasoning, Nikon appears free and clear to, at least for now, continue to offer compressed internal RAW video recording in its cameras, which is a win for both Nikon and filmmakers using the company’s cameras.