July 29, 2015, 08:11:46 PM

Author Topic: Understanding Lens Patents  (Read 562 times)

inky38

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Understanding Lens Patents
« on: July 17, 2015, 06:31:01 PM »
Quite frequently, Canon rumours publishes information on Canon lens patents.

Mostly these posts include a diagram showing lens elements in a number of groups, with arrows going backwards and forwards, along with a descriptions including positive and negative positive and negative positive.

Well it confuses the heck out of me.

Has anyone got a 'Understanding lens patents for Dummies' guide :)

In all seriousness, I'd like to know a bit more about lens design, so any guidance would be greatly appreciated.


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Understanding Lens Patents
« on: July 17, 2015, 06:31:01 PM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Understanding Lens Patents
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2015, 07:52:22 PM »
lens design is pretty complex.  Originally, hand drawn ray tracing was used to determine and adjust the path of light beams thru a lens.  Now its done by computer which speeds up the process.

A simplified description is on Wikipedia, and its far from simple.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photographic_lens_design   follow some of the links to get a lot more information about various designs. 

Reading patents is yet another matter.  They attempt to cover all aspects of a patent to keep someone from copying the design, and as a result use language that is difficult to read.  Its basically a mixture of legal and design information.   Then, there is the issue of machine translation from Japanese to another language.

Probably the best patent reader for English is one from Japan

https://www4.j-platpat.inpit.go.jp/eng/tokujitsu/tkbs_en/TKBS_EN_GM101_Top.action

Put A in the Kind field and the patent application number in the document field.  Sometimes, the patent number we get is not complete and missing a leading zero.

inky38

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Re: Understanding Lens Patents
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2015, 04:29:26 PM »
Thanks, that's just what I was looking for

jeffa4444

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Re: Understanding Lens Patents
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2015, 05:47:37 PM »
Patents are treated very differently in the US compared to Europe. Basically almost anything gets patented in the US and the rule of thumb is to contest or defend and the larger the company the more likely they will take this approach because they can afford big legal teams. In Europe its tougher to be granted a patent because you have to prove to the patent offices you have unique IP. The battles between Apple and Samsung underline the different approaches between the US and Europe.
Canon 6D, 16-35 f4L IS, 17-40 f4L, 28 f2.8, 24-105 f4L, 100mm f2.8L, 70-200 f4L IS, 70-300 f4-5.6 IS USM, 50 f1.8 STM
Canon 7D, 10-22 f3.5-4.5, 15-85 f3.5-5.6

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Understanding Lens Patents
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2015, 10:35:37 PM »
Patents are treated very differently in the US compared to Europe. Basically almost anything gets patented in the US and the rule of thumb is to contest or defend and the larger the company the more likely they will take this approach because they can afford big legal teams. In Europe its tougher to be granted a patent because you have to prove to the patent offices you have unique IP. The battles between Apple and Samsung underline the different approaches between the US and Europe.

Having been involved heavily in patents, I find just the opposite.  We (Our Company) had to defend ourselves from European patents that had been in common use world wide for 30 years, because there was poor or no checking of them in Europe.  In the case of patents in the US, a very expensive patent search is undertaken, usually by a 3rd party company, and their report is considered by the patent office as due diligence. 

I certainly agree that stupid patents are sometimes approved, but its usually a exception.

Where I worked, all of our designers and engineers were issued patent books where they could jot down ideas that came into their head while designing the product, then if they thought it was a unique and valuable approach, they added more detail, and called in the internal patent officer.  He would help the inventor put the patent into proper form.  Then it went to a patent committee who circulated it to experts in the field of the patent.  I reviewed several a week that could have been submitted by anyone, be he a janitor or PHD, anyone can invent something valuable.  As a reviewer, I made a presentation to the patent committee giving my opinion of the usefulness to the company.  We did not file for patents unless they were of potential value to the company.  If it was a good patent, but not something that the company would use, the inventor was given full ownership to patent it himself.  If it sounded useful, and was unique or appeared to be, then it went to the patent search step where a careful search was made for similar patents.  This can be very difficult, because the key words are not always obvious.  Once all the hurdles were cleared, the patent application was submitted.  Some people were avid inventors and had many patents, others never submitted inventions that should have been submitted.  That cost the company many millions of dollars in one case.  Our company invented the product but did not file for a design patent, and someone in Europe later filed a patent for a product we were already manufacturing.


jeffa4444

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Re: Understanding Lens Patents
« Reply #5 on: Today at 11:53:45 AM »
All I can say is based on my own experiance just like you. We have filed patents in Europe that took 18 months to be approved and were sent back numerous times yet in the US they went through uncontested. The courts also take very different approaches in Europe to the US having had to defend patents in both jurisdictions winning in one case in Europe whilst losing in the US in what should have been an open & shut case. Admittedly jurors sitting in complex technical cases without real technical knowledge is an issue but my experiance which is still ongoing is as I stated.
Canon 6D, 16-35 f4L IS, 17-40 f4L, 28 f2.8, 24-105 f4L, 100mm f2.8L, 70-200 f4L IS, 70-300 f4-5.6 IS USM, 50 f1.8 STM
Canon 7D, 10-22 f3.5-4.5, 15-85 f3.5-5.6

AcutancePhotography

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Re: Understanding Lens Patents
« Reply #6 on: Today at 12:36:12 PM »
Also, keep in mind that you will probably not learn a lot from looking at a patent.  There is an fine art to writing patents.  You want to put in just enough information to make the patent work but not disclose too much.
I shoot with a Camera Obscura with an optical device attached that refracts and transmits light

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Re: Understanding Lens Patents
« Reply #6 on: Today at 12:36:12 PM »

jeffa4444

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Re: Understanding Lens Patents
« Reply #7 on: Today at 05:48:11 PM »
Patents are treated very differently in the US compared to Europe. Basically almost anything gets patented in the US and the rule of thumb is to contest or defend and the larger the company the more likely they will take this approach because they can afford big legal teams. In Europe its tougher to be granted a patent because you have to prove to the patent offices you have unique IP. The battles between Apple and Samsung underline the different approaches between the US and Europe.

Having been involved heavily in patents, I find just the opposite.  We (Our Company) had to defend ourselves from European patents that had been in common use world wide for 30 years, because there was poor or no checking of them in Europe.  In the case of patents in the US, a very expensive patent search is undertaken, usually by a 3rd party company, and their report is considered by the patent office as due diligence. 

I certainly agree that stupid patents are sometimes approved, but its usually a exception.

Where I worked, all of our designers and engineers were issued patent books where they could jot down ideas that came into their head while designing the product, then if they thought it was a unique and valuable approach, they added more detail, and called in the internal patent officer.  He would help the inventor put the patent into proper form.  Then it went to a patent committee who circulated it to experts in the field of the patent.  I reviewed several a week that could have been submitted by anyone, be he a janitor or PHD, anyone can invent something valuable.  As a reviewer, I made a presentation to the patent committee giving my opinion of the usefulness to the company.  We did not file for patents unless they were of potential value to the company.  If it was a good patent, but not something that the company would use, the inventor was given full ownership to patent it himself.  If it sounded useful, and was unique or appeared to be, then it went to the patent search step where a careful search was made for similar patents.  This can be very difficult, because the key words are not always obvious.  Once all the hurdles were cleared, the patent application was submitted.  Some people were avid inventors and had many patents, others never submitted inventions that should have been submitted.  That cost the company many millions of dollars in one case.  Our company invented the product but did not file for a design patent, and someone in Europe later filed a patent for a product we were already manufacturing.
Ive been told US patent law changed in 2013 to bring it into line with the EU block so the circumstance you described of recording details prior to patent applicantion no longer count its now "first to patent" so if someone else thinks up a parrallel idea and even if its after you if they file first they get the patent.   
Canon 6D, 16-35 f4L IS, 17-40 f4L, 28 f2.8, 24-105 f4L, 100mm f2.8L, 70-200 f4L IS, 70-300 f4-5.6 IS USM, 50 f1.8 STM
Canon 7D, 10-22 f3.5-4.5, 15-85 f3.5-5.6

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Re: Understanding Lens Patents
« Reply #7 on: Today at 05:48:11 PM »