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Matt Bacon AMPS

Farewell innovation?

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Litigation is once again the topic of the day. I see from https://search.rpxcorp.com/litigation_documents/12428564 that Zaxcom has decided to sue Lectrosonics over the PDR unit claiming infringement of their U.S. Patent No. 7,929,902, 8,385,814 & 9,336,307 all entitled “VIRTUAL WIRELESS MULTITRACK RECORDING SYSTEM.”

Members here I imagine will likely naturally take one side or the other. Personally, I am a former Zaxcom and current Lectrosonics and Wisycom user. I am a supporter of patents as they offer much needed protection to innovators and inventors when used in the correct manner. However, my own view (which I am aware others will disagree with but we are in a democracy with freedom of speech so lets keep things civil) is that this patent is far too broad and should never have been issued in its current form as it is stifling the industry and advances in radiomic technology.

Like many, I see recordable transmitters as a natural evolution of the humble radiomic and would like to see other manufacturers (I know Audio Ltd already have a working system available outside of North America) adding features such as this to their equipment ranges. I was hoping that following the launch of Superslot the industry had seen the light and would work towards a greater open-standards (or at worse cross-license patents for the benefit of the end user). This clearly shows those days are not yet here. 

This topic last came up with Zaxcom sued Tascam over the launch of their DR10's. Tascam withdrew their product from North America rather than enter a lengthy and costly legal battle (who knows what Lectrosonics will decide but my guess is that they took legal council prior to launching the PDR) so to my knowledge this patent has never been tested in an actual court.

Questions for the group are:
1.) Would you like to see Zaxcom, Lectrosonics, Wisycom, Audio Ltd create an open standard or cross license their technologies for the benefit of end users?
2.) Does anyone know if Zaxcom offer a license for their patents (Recordable transmitter)? If not, why not?
3.) Does anyone know if Lectrosonics offer a license for their patents (Digital Hybrid)? If not, why not?

Finally, let us have a sensible discussion about this and the wider topic of open standards and NOT drag this thread down with inappropriate language or insults please!!

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You're brave :- )

Given what happened with DR10, the PDR looks sure to test the resolve and legal position of the other party. I wonder if the outcome may be more far reaching than who can sell a small 'pocket' recorder (with niche I/P, O/P connectors?).

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58 minutes ago, daniel said:

You're brave :- )

Given what happened with DR10, the PDR looked sure to test the resolve and legal position of the other party. I wonder if the outcome may be more far reaching than who can sell a small 'pocket' recorder (with niche I/P, O/P connectors?).

I've been called many things. Brave? No. Fair? I like to think so. Inquisitive? Yes. Stubborn? Absolutely.

Should Lectrosonics decide to fight this in court then yes who knows what the ramifications will be.

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1 minute ago, Matt Bacon AMPS said:

I've Brave? No. Inquisitive? Yes. Stubborn. Absolutely.

Should Lectrosonics decide to fight this in court then yes who knows what the ramifications will be.

The release of the PDR is very interesting. A speculative either/or:

Global market for these devices is big enough to recoup the investment in the product development, even if withdrawn from the US market or the intention was always to back the product with the necessary legal resources. My guess is the later - mainly to support existing lectro products and customers. 

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I sure hope no one puts a microphone into a MixPre 3, clips that on their belt, records, and then god forbid plugs a wireless transmitter into that to send the signal elsewhere.

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Just now, Tom Craca said:

I sure hope no one puts a microphone into a MixPre 3, clips that on their belt, records, and then god forbid plugs a wireless transmitter into that to send the signal elsewhere.

Buy them while you can!

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56 minutes ago, Matt Bacon AMPS said:

Here is a crazy idea... could an open standard be devised so that a modular radiomic system could be created from any manufacture?

How does an inventor 'protect' an idea and not end up penniless after many years of hard work with an "open standard" model in this context? Of course we can think of examples where this has been done in 1 way or another but also where this was a struggle or didn't happen.

 

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2 minutes ago, daniel said:

How does an inventor 'protect' an idea and not end up penniless after many years of hard work with an "open standard" model in this context? Of course we can think of examples where this has been done in 1 way or another but also where this was a struggle or didn't happen.

 

My thoughts were an open (patent-less) standard could be achieved by some or all of the manufacturers as Superslot is. The manufacturers could perhaps then cross-license (with a fee changing hands to a point) and would make money selling hardware (or software) to us! Best of both worlds.

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Understanding that competition breeds innovation, I don't understand the title of this thread. 

This is one for the patent courts and not the court of public opinion.

A few points to keep in consideration:

- Standard practice when writing a patent is to make it as broad as possible without it being so broad as to be thrown out. Armchair lawyers can yammer on all day and it means nothing -- only the courts determine that tipping point.

- If a patent is infringed, the patent holder must show they have done their "due diligence" to protect their patent or they risk losing it.  Only the courts can determine if a patent has been infringed.

- Patents are among a company's most valuable assets. A CEO is negligent if they don't protect their company's assets.

- Both of the parties involved in this are valuable contributors to our community. 

 

 

 

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One the one hand, I'd love to see an open standard. I've been annoyed so many times that I had to buy the Sound Devices' CL-9 instead of just buying a generic Midi controller. But on the other hand, the closed protocols allow the manufacturer deeper integration and to dedicate more resources to the development. Had SD just implemented the HUI protocol, it would have given us a huge pool of devices to pick from, but SD probably wouldn't have bothered adding the return ports and so on. Integration into the eco-system always seems to be much tighter with the proprietary devices.

It certainly depends on what exactly would be the open standard. As it is now with the SuperSlot that's pretty useful, but what else?

Pocket recorders? I don't know. I think I'd prefer it if manufacturers tried to "invent" something new themselves.

 

With regards to the PDR, it's hard to say. I'd be very curious to see this decided in a court. It could cement Zaxcom's position, or it could - perhaps - loosen the patent and enable other manufacturers.

I believe Zaxcom probably would have offered a license. They did at least claim to have done that when Sonosax tried to release their NeverClip pendant.

 

But It's hard to see where they draw the line. A small recorder? There are many of those around. A pocket recorder? A small Zoom might qualify. Is it because you can directly attach a lav mic? What about using an XLR adapter?

DPA have just released a preamp and converter to which you can directly plug in a MicroDot equipped mic. Could they integrate a recorder with that? Or is the output?

In fact, my iPhone can directly accept a lav mic, it can record, it fits in my pocket and it has an output, too. Will Zaxcom sue Apple?

 

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2 minutes ago, Constantin said:

One the one hand, I'd love to see an open standard. I've been annoyed so many times that I had to buy the Sound Devices' CL-9 instead of just buying a generic Midi controller. But on the other hand, the closed protocols allow the manufacturer deeper integration and to dedicate more resources to the development. Had SD just implemented the HUI protocol, it would have given us a huge pool of devices to pick from, but SD probably wouldn't have bothered adding the return ports and so on. Integration into the eco-system always seems to be much tighter with the proprietary devices.

It certainly depends on what exactly would be the open standard. As it is now with the SuperSlot that's pretty useful, but what else?

Pocket recorders? I don't know. I think I'd prefer it if manufacturers tried to "invent" something new themselves.

 

With regards to the PDR, it's hard to say. I'd be very curious to see this decided in a court. It could cement Zaxcom's position, or it could - perhaps - loosen the patent and enable other manufacturers.

I believe Zaxcom probably would have offered a license. They did at least claim to have done that when Sonosax tried to release their NeverClip pendant.

 

But It's hard to see where they draw the line. A small recorder? There are many of those around. A pocket recorder? A small Zoom might qualify. Is it because you can directly attach a lav mic? What about using an XLR adapter?

DPA have just released a preamp and converter to which you can directly plug in a MicroDot equipped mic. Could they integrate a recorder with that? Or is the output?

In fact, my iPhone can directly accept a lav mic, it can record, it fits in my pocket and it has an output, too. Will Zaxcom sue Apple?

 

All very interesting points!

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20 minutes ago, Ty Ford said:

None of our business......slow news day?

Who cares - the bandwidth police?

 

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2 hours ago, Ty Ford said:

None of our business......slow news day?

Not sure what you mean here, Ty. We all use wireless systems. Well, most of us do. So it seems rather relevant. And the complaint is a public document.

Anyway, I have no idea how this will play out. But I'd guess Lectro was aware of Zax's patents before they released the PDR. And Zax was probably aware that Lectro was probably aware before they filed their complaint.

 

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I guess that points to the question of whether you should be able to patent a "concept" or if patent should be limited to a specific implementation of a concept.  While I agree it is important to protect intellectual property to give inventors incentive, I think there needs to be a better balancing to push innovation.  So another company might create the better "mousetrap" and let the market decide which is better...I think competition is more important for innovation, but it does I suppose protect the little guy from the bigger guy.  But there probably alternatives...  For instance, if the Zaxcom patent says recording to removable chip in transmitter, then a way around that might be to have internal memory...granted I have not seen and know nothing of the specifics of any patents involved...

Based on the number of cases and the coining of the term "patent troll" that clearly points the patent process is in need of reform.

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Being a C student I have trouble seeing the infringement of the PDR to the Zax recording transmitter. Seems to me a stand alone recorder is just that and a integrated recorder in a wireless transmitter is something else. Seems like a reach, but again, I'm a C student at best.

CrewC

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The PDR is a small recorder, stand alone or wearable with TC, an output.... and a TC input... where is the infringement here... a reach at best.. I see no path for ZAX in this matter... it in my opinion will be thrown out. Seems like a stab in the dark. If I wanted to place a MIX pre 3 under a coat and use it as a recorder,  TC or not, whats the difference...  Zax as far as I know has no patent on a small digital recorder, thats what the PDR is, a small digital recorder ... memory or Card ...  If thats the case, sue everyone in the marketplace with a small digital recorder. 

ZAX in the suit claims the use of the accessory cable (to be mated to a transmitter) is a problem... So, I ask... If I took any other small recorder with TC and outputs and connected a like cable, to a transmitter.... am I now in breech of ZAX patents... ?  Not well thought out it seems. If this is the case... EVERY small recorder is infringing on their "Patent"

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Frankly, there are loyalties in this business that go way deeper than feature sets.

I think you put out good products and back them up with quality build, good support, and kind customer service.

There are lots of "similar" products, but in our business, we go with who we're comfortable with. I can't imagine this lawsuit is going to help Zaxcom in any way whatsoever, even if they win. It'll only further people's decisions to look past feature sets and into the company itself.

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I guess they obviously feel like they have a case, but you're right that litigious behavior doesn't create warm fuzzies in any industry.  I've often heard folks say Zaxcom is like Apple, I guess they are in the proprietary and relatively high cost of entry, but in design and User Interface they're more like Apple without Jony Ive.  This coming from a Maxx owner.  It will be interesting to see how broad the patent can be interpreted, but it'll cost both sides a lot of money...then maybe they'll both get to raise their prices to fund the litigation.

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43 minutes ago, RPSharman said:

Frankly, there are loyalties in this business that go way deeper than feature sets.

I think you put out good products and back them up with quality build, good support, and kind customer service.

There are lots of "similar" products, but in our business, we go with who we're comfortable with. I can't imagine this lawsuit is going to help Zaxcom in any way whatsoever, even if they win. It'll only further people's decisions to look past feature sets and into the company itself.

A big +1 on this from me. 

This leaves a bad taste in my mouth. 

-Mike

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Having worked around law and lawyers in a professional law library in one of the law schools here I would offer the following opinions:

Patent Law reform: not likely, the basic laws are pretty good. How the laws work are  based on boilerplate law itself and on historical decisions that were cut and dry, or, new precedent based on fact types not clearly outlined in the laws.

Zaxcom's patent for "Virtual Multitrack Recording System" based on the technologies they outlined in their application that was approved and granted.

The court will likely, first and foremost, respect the patent and not say something like "Well you know I don't like the look of this and USPTO made a mistake in granting this so..."

Despite views that it may be unfair to Lectro or whomever, the awarded patent to Zaxcom is also a legal document issued by the government that has a lot of weight behind it--in the marketplace and particularly in the courtroom.

I did view a pdf of the complaint and it clearly explains that Zaxcom got there first, with the 'idea' and the technology to create what is described in the patent.

My bet is that Zaxcom will prevail.

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Who would've thought there are so many experienced patent attorneys moonlighting as sound mixers? <g>

This boils down to a simple matter: If Zaxcom prevails, Lectro got poor advice from their patent attorneys. If Lectro prevails, Zaxcom got poor advice from their patent attorneys. 

 

15 minutes ago, al mcguire said:

I have worn a Sound Devices 744t and used a wireless transmitter to send signal to camera - am I going to be sued ?

There's a world of difference between what an individual does with their gear and what a company competes with in the marketplace.

Now, as to whether or not you'll be sued...  If so, it'll probably be for something much more esoteric than this. 

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3 hours ago, John Blankenship said:

This boils down to a simple matter: If Zaxcom prevails, Lectro got poor advice from their patent attorneys. If Lectro prevails, Zaxcom got poor advice from their patent attorneys. 

Not really.

It is not known if Lectro consulted attorneys before releasing their product or if they did and received erroneous or whatever kind of advice.

Zaxcom looks like it got a superb patent, great advice and it's based on a unique idea. That is all I will say about it.

It is quite possible Lectro released the product going against an attorney's advice because they didn't like the advice, but I don't think they are that dumb.

Better yet, perhaps Lectro released the product knowing full well (based on an attorney's opinion) that they would end up in court and intended to use the occasion to test the waters and see how the court rules when both sides are presented.

Lectro could not have challenged the Zaxcom product (or defend their device) unless they manufactured and released their product and then subsequent to that, fully expect the infringement suit.

Lectro cannot challenge the patent or defend their own device by going to court and saying "Well you know, we're thinking about doing this similar type of thing but we want to get an opinion on whether or not we're infringing because our attorney doesn't have a crystal ball on this--but we really don't like that bullshit patent that they got. It's not fair!!."

There has to be a concrete issue and now there is, because they put themselves there. Otherwise, they're not in the game.

If this is the case, they have nothing to lose except the cash they budgeted for legal expenses and something to gain in market share if they win.

It is possible that Lectro and their attorney believe they have a convincing or novel argument that is good enough to take a calculated risk with, and, if they should lose, they can study the decision for weak points and appeal with a revised argument. Or develop  an unexpected revision of their product, that takes the decision into account that somehow does not infringe upon Zaxcom.

A negative outcome for Lectro might be ok with them, because they will know what they can or cannot do in relation to the Zaxcom product and figure out a path forward.

The only way Lectro can know for sure where they stand on this issue is to be in court over this.

 

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