Though I have had a good experience purchasing x products, I feel genuinely indebted to Red for the generosity they have shown with their upgrade program.
My sense is that two things are at the heart of this dispute:
1. Red feels possessive of the V-Mount functionality
2. Communication broke down between Red and WC when Red contacted WC to address this
There have been a couple of comments about how Red is sensitive to being perceived as the bad guys, so I wanted to share my own perception for whatever that's worth. I recognize that neither Red nor WC is at liberty to discuss any details until the suit is resolved.
The desire to protect intellectual property is admirable, and I don't believe this suit was intended to be malicious. My sense is that Red sincerely feels that WC inappropriately copied its design for the V-Mount.
The portion of the complaint pertaining to the cage feels like a bit of a red herring, since there are evident visual and functional differences between Red's design and WC's designs. The similarities that do exist derive from both products serving the identical (and obvious/non-unique) purpose of providing a cage for Epic/Scarlet. None of the specific cage components appear to be direct copies, and indeed other vendors not referenced in the suit (VF, AP, ET, Gini, etc) provide comparable products that are arguably closer to Red's own design. The complaint references "RED design language", but it is not clear what this comprises of, what aspects are protectable, or in what ways WC has infringed.
The portion of the complaint that warrants deeper consideration in my opinion is the portion pertaining to the V-Mount. Similarities between WC's A-Lock and Red's V-Mount are apparent. However, the uniqueness and protectability of a triangular shaped latch-point seems questionable: clearly this is a concept that other companies (Element Technica and IDX to name two) established prior to Red's specific implementation. Indeed, Red's patent pertains to "ornamental" elements rather than to any specific functionality.
The size and perimeter shape of WC's product exactly matches Red, so the question is not whether WC copied these, but whether dimensions and perimeter shape are protected. The pictures associated with Red's patent depict a block module which includes a V-Mount, but it is not clear that this is covered as a stand-alone element, nor that it would qualify for patent protection had it been separately submitted. Specific dimension of the V-Mount as an ornamental element are not specified. It feels like what Red wanted to protect was the functionality of the V-Mount, but I honestly don't believe that's what the patent covers - the patent is explicitly categorized as "ornamental".
Legal analysis aside: is there a core idea here which Red originated that I believe other companies shouldn't be allowed to copy? With respect to many many many aspects of Epic and Scarlet, absolutely yes. With specific respect to the V-Mount? I have trouble with this one. It feels like one implementation of a general idea that precedes Red.
Obviously, all of the above are just my two cents. I'm not a lawyer; I have been a plaintiff and have some degree of experience with intellectual property protection. I understand where Red is coming from, even if I have some questions about the merit of this specific claim. I think Red is an exceptional company run by exceptional people, and I hope this dispute gets resolved to everyone's satisfaction.
This could set a precedent which could trickle over to our side, or rather, door. Tired listening to people argue ideas 'aren't protectable' -- they should be.
It's an argument over grey areas, almost never over black and white.
that being said it's, of course, very important to protect entities on both sides of the equation because innovation is crucial and inspiration from innovation is equally as important as this is what drives the leapfrogging and pushing forward for all of us to benefit from in the end.
Unfortunately it is a pile of bullshit.
Nobody is stopping innovation. We are stopping stealing. We work with a ton of people and open our technology to them. But there is a discussion there and an agreement.
Leapfrogging is great.. we do it all the time. but we aknowlege that to leapfrog usually means stepping on someone else's back to get somewhere.. and there is a right way and wrong way to do that.
I sincerely hope that the RED -v- x stoush can sidestep into mediation and become settled before the lawyers take too much of a harvest. There will have to be an awful lot of Epics and Scarletts and Wooden accessories sold to pay it all off.
There is also the moral obligation of two workforces to protect. That notion of course is moot if one or the other enterprise has exported jobs offshore. My personal favour then would come down upon the enterprise which has the higher proportion of in-country workers devising and making its products.
It might be that one or both principals of each enterprise want to go all the way due to dominent personalities.
It may be that the applicant in this matter has no choice other than apply provable vigor to the defense of a registered design, patent, work of art or whatever, so that the current action becomes evidence in itself to support future intellectual property rights action.
I was a fly on the wall to an intellectual property rights fight which went all the way via successive appeals to our High Court where the appeal was finally upheld. A bit like divorce or family law cases - both parties may lose in the end. Through escalation, it reached a point, as I understood it within my limited range of comprehension, that each of both parties was headed for ruin if found against.
That outcome did transpire for the complainant, a pity because it seems to have driven a genuine innovator and creator in the particular industry out of the game altogether.
It would be a pity if the prime hobbyist/enthusiast who started the RED thing off finds the enterprise has become no longer fulfilling and has morphed into a ringer's complaint that he just wants to be quit of.
To both parties, please research and think mediation if that option exists within the statutes you are operating under. High-end combative lawyers may be more inclined to operate within their comfort zone. It may not be in their interest money-wise to go the mediation route. Nor may they be effective in a mediation environment. Those practitioners who assist clients in mediations are likely to be found specialists in their niche. It is a different craft which is finding favour out here as it reduces court time and costs for the achievement of much the same outcome as if two parties duke it out in the court to the line and then one blinks and they settle. How it goes in the US may be something different again.
Seriously, both parties should take a look at the mediation option if this has not happened already. Smackdown in the playground may feel good but it may come at an unsustainable cost, even to the winner.
Last edited by Robert Hart; 06-29-2012 at 01:30 PM.
You can post all the crap you want. I just want definitive lines drawn in the sand. Is WC ripping of RED or not? I as the enduser (love WC products) do not care who delivers the product I need. RED if you can't deliver a product that makes my Epic X work then you have an issue. If it's just companies hi-jacking RED than to hell with them.
Surely there is a middle ground?
I have to say, this is kinda waving a red flag (to coin a phrase), if this really happened as described. Jannard doesn't strike me as somebody you'd want to tussle with in court.
I can see where, on the surface, some people might think that Red was a big company trying to crush a little company. But I don't doubt there were a lot of behind-the-scenes discussions and warnings about this first. It's hard for me to believe why a reasonable licensing arrangement couldn't be worked out, especially if it was done ala Apple's "Made for iPod" certification program.
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