Amazon Patents “Subject Against a White Background” Photo Technique

I’ve seen some dumb patents in my day. I think the absolute worst was when Monsanto patented a living organism (its Roundup Ready Mutant Frankenfood Soy). But this one is a pretty close second. Amazon has been granted a patent for its apparently proprietary technique of photographing subjects and objects against a white background. A photo against a white background. Wouldn’t want anyone infringing on that intellectual property.

Yep. Now, if you photograph something against a white background, you could be sued for patent infringement. But not quite. There are so many variables involved in the patented process (including specific F-Stop and ISO setttings), that it would be tough for Amazon to prove anyone was using their patented technique. Which makes the patent pretty nearly useless to them, as anyone with half a brain could have predicted:

The patent lists in absurd detail every condition needed to fulfill Amazon’s arguably signature technique. The details go into everything from the F-stop to ISO value to focal length. It even goes into the exact geometry of every lens, stand and light source. While all that might seem ridiculous, there is a loose method to Amazon’s madness.

It tries to set itself apart by explaining that previous art would often use image retouching and green screens. Amazon’s technique is apparently the purest of the pure, being only the photographer, the photographed object/person, the white background, a number of front lights/back lights and some sort of object separating the subject from the ground below it.

Yep. This is what the US Patent Office is spending time on. Giving patents to mega-corporations for things that should never be patented. In other news, I heard recently that Barnes & Noble is trying to patent the ampersand and politicians are on the verge of being granted a patent for lies.