GoPro Says Insta360 Violated its Patents and the US is Taking Notice

An insta360 ace pro action camera with a leica lens, displayed against a gradient orange and red background. the camera features prominent recording indicators and design elements in red.

The United States government has opened an investigation into whether Arashi Vision Inc, the parent company of Insta360, violated several of GoPro’s patents.

GoPro filed a complaint to the US Government on March 29 alleging that Insta360 infringed on multiple patents including one that describes a virtual lens simulation for video and photo cropping, two that describe systems for digital stabilization, and one for auto-leveling the horizon line, among others. These are all systems that are critical to the feature sets of both recent GoPro and Insta360 action cameras.

In short, as Reuters reports, the complaint alleges that Insta360’s products infringe on its “novel and proprietary SuperView, virtual lens, HyperSmooth, and Horizon Leveling technology” found in its Hero cameras.

SuperView is a GoPro technology that takes a 4:3 aspect ratio and dynamically stretches it to a 16:9 aspect ratio. Digital lenses are GoPro’s name for different frame of view (FOV) options that give users the ability to adjust a zoom level multiple times across various aspect ratios. HyperSmooth is a GoPro technology for stabilizing video and Horizon Leveling is a similar stabilization tech that specifically refers to its cameras’ ability to auto level the horizon in a shot.

Insta360 markets its own versions of these same technologies, but the easiest ones to point to are FlowState and Horizon Lock.

For starters, not only does its Ace Pro action camera look very similar to GoPro’s ubiquitous design, it also touts “FlowState” stabilization that provides “gimbal-like” performance. It additionally hypes up a “Horizon Lock” feature that, as it sounds, locks the camera’s view to a horizon line — the same features GoPro describes in its patents.

A split image comparing flowstate stabilization: left side shows a blurred biking scene labeled "off," right side shows a clear, stabilized biking scene labeled "on," highlighting gimbal-like smoothness and 360° horizon stabilization.
via Insta360’s website.

These technologies aren’t just limited to the Ace Pro camera, as Insta360 uses similar technology across its suite of products including its 360-degree cameras, like the new X4, where the same “FlowState” digital stabilization and 360-degree Horizon Lock are emphasized as two of the key features.

Last week, the US announced that it is taking the allegations seriously and it is formerly investigating these claims. The story is far from over, however. The language of these patents is rather broad in some cases, so it remains to be seen if the investigation will rule in favor of GoPro.

“As the holder of numerous patents worldwide, we want you to know that Insta360 has great respect for IP laws and regulations,” the company tells PetaPixel.

“We’re confident that this matter will be resolved in our favor. There will be no impact on current business operations. We remain committed to creating innovative products for the world and helping people capture and share their lives.”

Image credits: Insta360

Update 5/6: The original story included a line stating that Insta360 is under the same political scrutiny as DJI given a PetaPixel source as well as Insta360’s confirmation. However, after publication, Insta360 said it misunderstood the question it was posed regarding political scrutiny and a possible nationwide ban and withdrew its confirmation. As PetaPixel’s source is not fully vetted on its own, we have removed the line.