It was only a matter of time until Fujifilm and Polaroid were going to duke it out on the legal battlefront; and apparently that’s what may be happening right now. According to a recent report, Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing after it was allegedly threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid in regards to borders around photographs.
This all started apparently in January 2017 after Fujifilm announced Fujifilm Instax Square around Photokina 2016. Fujifilm claims that Polaroid sent them a letter stating the prints were almost identical to what Polaroid has the trademark on. Then in March, Fujifilm states they got a letter that Polaroid would need to take “‘appropriate action'” if Fujifilm didn’t withdraw from creating the product.
The two haven’t quite gone to court yet, but they are still firing back at one another with Fujifilm asking for protection from the courts.
Polaroid first came up with instant photography many years ago but then discontinued manufacturing of their Instant film. As a result, the Impossible Project took it back up. But one of the investors in Impossible ended up purchasing lots of stake in Polaroid to form a new company called Polaroid Originals. Like Kodak, Polaroid Originals and Polaroid are different companies. The latter makes fairly paltry instant photographs using zInk paper while the former uses actual chemicals and film.
The reason for borders aren’t just for a nice frame, but because they’re the place that typically holds the film chemicals. When the film positive is rolled through the camera, the rollers spread the chemicals through the entire image to develop the photo.
Fujifilm, despite having the Instax lineup for a really long time and the peel apart Instant film, are now being told to pay licensing fees in specific regards to Instax Square.
According to World IP Review:
“Polaroid first released its camera in 1947, but more than 60 years later, in 2008, Polaroid filed for bankruptcy, discontinuing many product lines…PLR IP owns US trademark numbers 3,858,352; 4,425,870; 4,388,462; 4,304;206; 4,550,864; 5,284,186; and 5,284,187, which cover the borders surrounding instant photographs.”
If you look at Polaroid trademarks you’ll find a ton of dead ones in regards to film. Fujifilm and Polaroid to this day are often very highly locked in competition in the Instant film world. Everyone says they’re shooting a Polaroid but in fact they’re shooting an Instax print.
Thanks for the find, Scott!