Red is suing Nikon for allegedly infringing on its video compression technology with the Z9’s N-RAW video capture: Digital Photography Review

A new lawsuit, filed by representatives for cinema camera manufacturer RED, accuses Nikon of illegally using its patented data compression technology in its Nikon Z9 full-frame mirrorless camera.

According to the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the plaintiff, Red.com, LLC (RED), is accusing the defendant, Nikon Corporation (Nikon), of patent infringement. Specifically, RED is accusing Nikon of knowingly using technology described in RED’s patents pertaining to ‘highly compress[ed] video data in a visually lossless manner’ in its Nikon’s Z series mirrorless cameras, ‘such as the “Nikon Z9 with Firmware 2.0.”’

As we reported back in December 2021, Nikon is licensing intoPIX’s TicoRAW technology for the 8K/60p N-Raw video in its Z9 mirrorless camera. What’s interesting is that intoPIX describes its patented TicoRAW technology as ‘mathematically lossless and visually lossless down to 1 bit per pixel,’ which is incredibly similar to how RED describes its technology.

A screenshot from intoPIX’s website showing the benefits of its patented TicoRAW technology.

RED further alleges Nikon knew about these patented technologies and its ‘prior lawsuits involving one or more of the asserted patents.’ Specifically, RED mentions its complaints against Kinefinity, Nokia and Sony, with Sony going so far as to countersue RED for infringing upon its patents.

According to RED’s complaint, Nikon’s use of its patented compression technology is ‘likely to cause irreparable harm to RED, which cannot be adequately compensated by money damages,’ through ‘lost sales and profits, reduced business, and injury to its general reputation and industry standing.’ Despite alleging it ‘cannot be adequately compensated by money damages, RED says it’s ‘entitled to an increase of damages up to three times the amount found or assessed at least due to Nikon’s willful and deliberate infringement [and] entitled to an award of its attorneys’ fees because Nikon’s infringement presents an exceptional case.’

RED is also seeking ‘a preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining Nikon from infringing the claims,’ meaning it wants Nikon to stop promoting and selling the products allegedly infringing upon RED’s technology. What isn’t clear is why RED is suing Nikon instead of intoPIX, considering Nikon’s licensing of intoPIX’s TicoRAW technology was fairly well covered in industry. However, RED does specifically mention that Nikon sells products in the same channels as it does in the complaint and notes sales Nikon’s allegedly infringing products will hurt RED’s bottom line.

This is purely speculation, but it’s possible RED doesn’t feel as though they have a case against intoPIX, since they’re in different markets: camera hardware vs codec licensing, respectively. It’s also possible RED is hoping this complaint will result in a settlement with Nikon, who can likely afford to come to a more substantial financial agreement compared to intoPIX.

Below is the full complaint:

We have contacted both Nikon and RED for comments on this matter. As of publishing this article, only Nikon responded, but said it was ‘unable to comment on the matter.’

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