Bad news for fans of Sigma lenses: the company has just lost a trial before the Tokyo District Court, where it was sentenced to a payment of $14.5 million in compensation to Nikon. Sigma was found guilty of infringing on Nikon’s patented VR image stabilization technology, part of which it has allegedly been using in a number of optically stabilized lenses. Nikon had originally filed the lawsuit back in May 2011, after the two companies failed to come to an arrangement outside of court. Back then, Nikon sought $120 million in compenation from Sigma.
Strangely enough, though, the Tokyo District Court originally dismissed the lawsuit back in January 2013. We have no idea what happened in the meantime, but apparently the case was taken up again. Now, does this mean that Sigma won’t make optically stabilized lenses anymore in the future? That is most unlikely, as image stabilization is so commonplace today that a reputed lens maker such a Sigma can hardly justify building lenses without it.
The way we see it, Sigma has two possibilities now. They could pay the compensation to Nikon, continue to use the image stabilization technology patented by Nikon, and continue to pay royalties for all future lenses using the technology. This of course would mean that Sigma lenses will become more expensive. Alternatively, the company could research other stabilization technologies, which would probably cost money as well and will also lead to its lenses becoming more expensive.
We can’t say whether or not an appeal is a possible third option, as we are unfamiliar with the Japanese legal system. But if it is, Sigma will most likely challenge the ruling in order to try and avert having to pay the huge amount of compensation (and possible future royalties) to Nikon.
Via Nikon Rumors