Patent 6,985,875? Any news?

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by kbev, Jun 26, 2006.

  1. Good afternoon all,
    I was just checking out some things on a site I shoot for and notice that they
    had a patent listed at the bottom of their page. Out of curiousity, I googled
    the patent and was a bit dumbfounded at what I was reading.

    It seeems as though people are somewhere between concerned and confused in
    most cases - as it related to what we can and cannot do online.

    I was/am going to shoot a race in the fall and use a photo site to sell the
    photos - likely sorted by bib number. This patent would seem to make that
    a "questionable" activity, which seems crazy to me.

    Anyway, often has a lot of good advice/ suggestions/ experts on
    things. that said, I wanted to see ifanyonehas looked into this patent and
    exactly what it means for the semi-pro photographer.

  2. Disclaimer - I am not a patent attorney, nor do I play one on TV.

    For a patent to be valid, the invention described must be novel, useful, and non-obvious to one skilled in the art. From my quick read of the patent, it appears that the inventors have patented the relational database containing photos and individual identifiying information. It could be hard to claim that this is novel and non-obvious. But since the USPTO saw fit to issue a patent, should you be sued for infringement, you would have to prove that the patent is not valid. The simplest proof would be the demonstration that a similar system was in use prior to the claimed invention.

    On a practical level, if you were sued and you lost, the damages awarded would likely be either your profits from the use of the system or the inventor's lost profits. The legal bills could easily wipeout any damages.

    And now my rant - The USPTO has been creating a large number of problems by granting patents that should never have been granted. The attitude appears to have been when in doubt, grant the patent and let the courts sort it out. Unfortunately, this has tied up lots of courts and stifled innovations while patents were tied up in court on the way to invalidation. In the end, consumers have suffered and only the lawyers have benefitted.
  3. Please visit the following site for some comments concerning the controversy surrounding these patents. You can also contact me directly if you like.

    Thousands of event organizers are choosing to use licensed photographers. You may want to consider a reasonable licensing arrangement to maintain a competitive edge.


    Peter Wolf
  4. Peter,
    I've reviewed the patent and the "form letter" that you attached to your last post (which I believe was a response to a smugmug post).

    As best I can tell, this patent covers something more elaborate than manually going through photos and renaming the files (or adding captions) that contain runners' bib numbers. You didn't specifically address that in your post. Are you asserting that photographers that manually encode bib numbers to name files/captions in order to allow people to find themselves and buy photos online are infringing on you patent?

    Please clarify. From my reading (and a patent lawyer friends reading) of the patent, a photographer would need to be using some type of clock or synching mechanism to ID people....

    Thanks in advance,
  5. Keith, I was wondering the same thing. Statements that he makes like "The concept of offering event photos for inspection, selection and distribution via the Internet is protected by U.S. Patent No. 6,985,875." seem a bit broader than whatever it is that the patent actually covers.
    And since digital cameras store timestamps, as noted in the patent, it would seem obvious to correlate external information via the time the photograph was taken. For example, a photographer taking shots for a newspaper while the reporter makes notes for the caption - the reporter merely records the time a photo was taken in the notes he uses to write the caption.
    That's why they put timestamps in the digital captures in the first places, isn't it.
    Disclaimer: I'm not a patent lawyer. I'm not even a lawyer.
  6. Hi Keith,

    I wouldn't want to re-interpret what is said in the patents. Besides, I am not an attorney and wouldn't be qualified to do so even if I did. I believe your concerns are adequately covered in the patents - just read them carefully.

  7. This isn't dead.

    Courts have been doing a lot of tossing-out of patents that should have not (IMHO) been granted by the patent office. This may be another one.
  8. David, thank you for the update. Sadly, you are correct. This is not dead & Mr. Peter Wolf still continues to act on his Patent's forcing other hard working photographers (not machines recording images based on a motion sensor! which in my opinion does not count as photography but as surveillance) to cower and fear his patent.

    If you explore his website as listed below, you will soon discover that Mr. Peter Wolf is the madman behind this scheme and abuse of the fantastic legal system we all trust and live by. "The process of offering event photos for inspection, selection and distribution via the Internet is protected by U.S. Patents No. 6,985,875 and No. 7,047,214. We welcome others who wish to license the process from us. Kindly contact us by email or phone to discuss the details." This comment taken from clearly shows the intention of this patent is not only to drive business his way, but to profit off of all other hard working photographers & companies alike.

    On an added note to the sportsshooter forum, Printroom has this agreement & information available to their photographers...

    "Printroom Sports Event Program Info and Guidelines

    * Do you shoot participants in sporting events?
    * Do you associate a unique identifier (such as bib number, name or time) with each image?
    * Do the participants find the images using a unique pre-determined identifier?

    If the answer is affirmative to all of the above questions, you should enroll in the Printroom Sports Event Program. The Printroom Sports Event Program protects you by properly licensing the required patent technology to facilitate your sports event photography workflow.
    United States Patent Nos. 7,047,214 and 6,985,875 cover online sales of photos of sporting event participants in which a unique identifier (such as a bib number, participant name, RF ID chip number or date and time) is used to find those photos.
    Any images falling within this program will pass through an additional fee of $1.50 per image to the end consumer. The photographer will pay no additional cost, but will be 100% licensed to utilize the above mentioned technology. The fee does not apply to team images used in the Team&Player posters, to images purchased as "order all images in a gallery", or to photographer own orders. "

    So now, not only are the photographers suffering from this absurdity but their customers are as well.

    When does this end Mr. Peter Wolf? Will your conscious ever catch you?

    I hope so.

  9. At Capstone Photography, we are the most recent defendant of this outrageous patent litigation, and we are not lying down. But we need your help. Check out for lots of great information regarding this case. Please read, share and donate if you can. Also, check out the most recent motion of our defense here.
  10. <p>Forum contributors, PLEASE read the patents in question and try to understand some of the legal and technical details before judging the validity or anything else associated with the patents. Wrong information is misleading and confusing. Mr. Skelps is fueling misinformation on these forums and websites he has published.<br /> <br /> The invention occurred and was filed with the Patent Office in 1999. No one has ever found any prior art before that date &ndash; including the USPTO. Unfortunately the patents didn&rsquo;t issue until 2006 and by that time many event photography businesses used the invention including Capstone. A patent owner can&rsquo;t really do much until the patent issues. So, for six long years I sat there and saw my ideas being used and couldn&rsquo;t do a thing.<br /> <br /> Once the patent issued we contacted some event photography companies and several, including the largest in the industry, MarathonFoto, licensed with us immediately. Some refused to license and we filed our first law suit against 8 infringers, including Brightroom. Within a short time they all settled and/or licensed with us. There were a few more lawsuits and the end was the same &ndash; they settled and/or licensed.<br /> <br /> I contacted Michael Skelps at Capstone in 2008 and we had a cordial phone conversation. I personally followed it up with a polite email explaining the situation. He didn&rsquo;t respond! We contacted him again in 2011, he didn&rsquo;t respond. We filed a claim against Capstone in 2013 and he had to respond through attorneys. That is a VERY expensive way to communicate.<br /> <br /> Recently I personally contacted him again by phone and email but Michael Skelps doesn&rsquo;t respond. Michael seems to be fixated in fighting until the bitter end. It makes absolutely no sense, especially from a business point of view.<br /> <br /> I believe Mr. Skelps has a really bad case of pride or stubbornness and he may very well go out of business and bankrupt before conceding that he could be wrong or resolve our differences. <br /> <br /> I don&rsquo;t wish anyone to go out of business or bankrupt but Mr. Skelps will NOT communicate. What can you do if someone doesn&rsquo;t want to talk or communicate accept through his lawyers? The noose is tightening more and more around his business and personal finances. Can anyone talk some sense into Michael? I really hate to see what he is doing to himself.<br /> <br /> His recent filing of a Motion For a Judgment on The Pleadings is a feudal and VERY expensive way to invalidate the patents. We have filed a response and his motion will be denied. PLEASE, someone talk some sense to Michael and tell him he doesn't have to go down this road. Doesn't he realize that even if the patents were invalidated he would still be stuck with the legal fees. Are bragging rights that valuable? I don't think so. Michael, call any time if you want to talk: (805) 492-0562<br>
    <br />
  11. Thankfully, Michael Skelps stood up for what is fair and just.

    I read elsewhere on the net many statements made by Peter Wolf, where he stated something to the effect of "Once
    my website went live in 1999, everyone copied my ideas."

    Seriously? Such appalling hubris! As if everyone even HEARD of Wolf or his website, let alone seen it or "copied" it.

    What happened in the late 90's was the coincidence of internet access getting faster (critical for consuming image
    data) and getting more universally adopted in US households, combined with digital camera becoming more
    affordable, available, and becoming more capable of being used in event photography. The simultaneous
    occurrence of both of these essential ingredients is where the photographers I know got the "idea"... not from seeing
    Wolf's website. That Wolf takes personal credit for "inventing" the assemblage of concepts contained in the patents
    currently being challenged just goes to show how prideful his thinking about his self credited "revolution" of

    A proverb states "Pride goeth before a fall." And I suspect that these feeble patents, once finally and fully
    challenged, will fall.
  12. This is a perfect example of why the patent and litigation system needs to be completely overhauled. "Passive income" for sitting on your butt and collecting money from hard-working professionals is the realm of the government - it's equivalent of a taxation process, with zero added value. And that "added value" concept needs to be interpreted, not the current "hey - that's my idea - give me your money" approach.
    In Russia shortly after the fall of USSR private enterprise thinking went crazy, to the point where people were patenting items like "a glass container with a single opening", then litigating against companies that made coke bottles. That situation is not that far from where we're at here in North America.
  13. A judge just issued a final order invalidating THREE of Peter Wolf's patents...
    ->> "Thus, the court finds that all three of the patents in suit are directed to patent-ineligible abstract ideas, and lack an inventive concept that would make them patent-eligible applications of those ideas."

    In accordance with the foregoing, the Court GRANTS defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings.


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