Legal battle between Polaroid and Fujifilm for the rights of the mythical square white border of the photos

noviembre 16, 2017

It was no accident that, despite Fujifilm creating its Instax range at the end of the 90's, it would not have launched a square format that reminded of the mythical Polaroid. A few months ago they finally did it with their new Instax Square format, and the consequences have already arrived: Polaroid, the brand that has currently registered the square white frame of the mythical snapshots, has claimed a huge amount of millions of dollars from the Japanese brand. dollars for using a format that, according to them, belongs to them.

It was Fujifilm itself who filed the lawsuit on November 13 for a judge to clarify if they are infringing a crime or not by using the classic square format with white borders on their new analogue product.

Apparently this is the result of a series of conversations held between Fujifilm and Polaroid during this year, in which both companies exchanged several letters.

The first came in January of this year and was written by Polaroid, asking Fujifilm to pay millions of dollars for the rights to use that element, annually and permanently. Fujifilm, considering that he was not infringing any patent, ignored the warning and in March of that same year he again received a new letter, in which Polaroid insisted and asked the Japanese giant to withdraw its Instax Square product from the market - although he had not even been officially released yet.

After seeing that neither party was willing to compromise, a face-to-face meeting between the two companies was proposed to discuss the matter, a meeting that was canceled shortly afterwards because Polaroid was not going to give in, and urged the company again pay, or start legal procedures.

Finally it has been Fujifilm who has wanted to accelerate this process and has presented they have presented themselves the lawsuit in New York, asking that it be clarified at once who is right in this matter, and has stated in the lawsuit that their "square photos inside a square "do not infringe any license patented by Polaroid. They have also requested that the Polaroid patents related to the matter be canceled, as well as the fees for their use.

Instant photography was invented by Polaroid in 1947, although it was not until a few years later that the mythical square format was introduced. Actually, Polaroid photographs do not have a white frame, as many people think. These "edges" are the sides of a kind of envelope containing the emulsion and the revealing chemicals to make it possible for the photograph to appear through a small transparent "window", which is what the photograph would be once that small envelope is ejected from the camera.

It is true that Polaroid has registered the square format with borders as a graphic symbol, but the reproduction of it on photographic paper and products with such a universal and basic form as a square could be exempt from that patent, if so dictated by a judge.

Fujifilm until now had only made instant paper of mini format (rectangular, like a credit card) and of 'wide' format much wider and more rectangular than a square Polaroid, reason why it had avoided this controversy. With the launch of a square format identical in proportion - not in size, since the Instax photographs are somewhat smaller than the Polaroids - the controversy is well served, and perhaps we are facing a similar case to the litigation that took place in the 80s between Kodak and Polaroid. The latter won the trial and Kodak was forced to stop making both cameras and instant analog film. He has not done it since then.

It should be noted that Fujifilm and Polaroid maintained a certain relationship of commercial complicity in recent years. Even Polaroid released a camera that used the Fujifilm Instax Mini film as a replacement, winning both parts. Only time - and a court - will say who is right, if anyone has it.

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