You may be aware of the RED.com LLC lawsuit against Nikon over what they state is an infringement of their Video Compression Patent that Nikon introduced in the 2.0 firmware update for the Z9 camera. With the 2.0 update, the Z9 can capture 8.3K RAW video at up to 60 frames per second in Nikon’s new “N-RAW format” or up to 4.1K at 60 frames per second ProRes RAW HQ.
Well, that lawsuit has been dismissed. Now, we have no idea what actually happened, but here is the dismissal:
Plaintiff Red.com, LLC and Defendants Nikon Corporation and Nikon Inc. hereby stipulate and move pursuant to this joint motion, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(ii), that this action be dismissed without prejudice as to all claims, counterclaims, causes of action, defenses, and parties, with each party bearing their own attorney’s fees and costs.
A case dismissed with prejudice is completely finished and it can’t be brought back to court again. A case dismissed without prejudice means the exact opposite. Essentially it can be tried again.
The lawsuit never made it to a jury trial.
Essentially neither side won, as a joint motion from both Red and Nikon was filed to dismiss the lawsuit. What that means is anyone’s guess. Nikon may have settled out of court, Red and Nikon may have both got to a point where neither party was confident of winning, or Red possibly felt that because Nikon doesn’t make digital cinema cameras, it wasn’t going to hurt them directly. This is all just speculation and the only ones who know for sure are Red and Nikon.
Nikon hasn’t released any statement, nor have they issued any type of firmware update that removes internal RAW recording from the Z9. With the upcoming Z8 set to be released soon it will be interesting to see if that camera comes out with internal RAW recording options.
What is interesting is that just one week prior to the dismissal a joint stipulated motion to extend discovery deadlines and extend the jury trial date was denied by the court.
What was the Lawsuit
The lawsuit has stated several allegations of the use of REDs patent. Below is the main concerns.
29. RED is informed and believes and thereupon alleges that Nikon makes, uses, imports, offers to sell, and/or sells in the United States, and in this judicial district, cameras under the Nikon brand that infringe each of the asserted patents.
30. RED is informed and believes and thereupon alleges that Nikon’s infringing video cameras (the “accused products”) include, but are not limited to, “Z Series Mirrorless Cameras” such as “Nikon Z 9 with Firmware 2.0.”
The Z9 uses a high-efficiency RAW codec for stills that comes from intoPIX. intoPIX also makes a video version of this same RAW codec called TicoRAW. One of the options available is IPX-TicoRAW-8K (up to 8192-pixels width). This is available in 12-bit and up to 60fps. This is what Nikon is using in the Z9 with 2.0 firmware.
Here is what intoPIX officially said in December last year:
The new Z 9 camera offers High-Efficiency RAW recording up to 8K and 60fps (available through the 2022 firmware update), preserving all the benefits of the RAW format while ensuring very low power processing and very fast transfer speed.
With TicoRAW, the full quality of the captured sensor data is preserved while reducing the bandwidth and the storage needs. It can be used for both Still pictures and RAW movies. This patented technology offers high image quality, and the capability to manage very high resolutions, high frame rates, and high dynamic range workflows. TicoRAW is the world’s first RAW codec that can offer compression efficiency with such low complexity. It also has the advantage of retaining this very fast format for editing, regardless of resolution and/or frame rates used.
It doesn’t appear RED is going after intoPIX but more so that the Z9 is recording internal RAW with a similar scheme that RED has patented. intoPIXs TicoRAW is also patented.
The filing seeks damages and or royalties for the alleged infringement and an injunction barring Nikon from further infringement. The plaintiff also seeks an award of attorneys’ fees. Nikon can either fight it out in a costly court battle or remove the new feature from the Z9 2.0 firmware update. One issue is that the update has been available since April 20th, 2022 making the removal process practically impossible.
Here We Go Again
This isn’t the first time RED has sued to protect their internal RAW recording patent and has made companies pull their RAW offerings from cameras that have stated they will include internal Video RAW capture. The latest I can remember is Kinfinity and DJI with the Ronin 4D. This is a bit more complicated because the 2.0 update has been released and installed already in users’ cameras.
REDs patent entitled “VIDEO CAMERA,” is set to expire on 11/04/2028.