I have always assumed that the requirement for a patent is that the invention to be protected is, at the very least, new. That doesn’t seem to be the case in the US, where Amazon was able to patent the “studio arrangement” shown in the graphics embedded below. Patent 8,676,045 describes a rather simple layout for studio lighting that has been in use for decades and should be familiar even to relatively inexperienced studio photographers. It is a layout that is supposed to ensure a seamless white background: One studio light behind the camera, several on each side, the person or object in front of a white background and several lamps behind the podium on which the person or object is positioned. Yes, the arrangement is really that simple, but was able to be patented nonetheless.
a background comprising a white cyclorama; a front light source positioned in a longitudinal axis intersecting the background, the longitudinal axis further being substantially perpendicular to a surface of the white cyclorama; an image capture position located between the background and the front light source in the longitudinal axis, the image capture position comprising at least one image capture device equipped with an eighty-five millimeter lens, the at least one image capture device further configured with an ISO setting of about three hundred twenty and an f-stop value of about 5.6; …
What’s more, the entire picture-taking process is described step by step: turning on the background lighting and the front lamps, positioning the motif on the podium and finally, releasing the shutter.
You can read more details and funny comments on the DIY Photography blog, which first covered the patent. I definitely recommend reading the comments to anyone who enjoys irony and sarcasm. And now I’m off to patent a technique called “supplying the body with air so it does not suffocate” – there’s a lot of money to be made. 😉