United States: GoPro When Considering Patents, Don’t Panic Like An Everyday Investor

Last Updated: January 16 2015
Article by Justin F. McNaughton

GoPro stocks dropped 13% on Tuesday – allegedly because Apple had a patent granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for an improved remote control for a camera.  The Blog Patently Apple reported Tuesday that Apple had been granted a patent that could threaten GoPro, then several news outlets sensationalized the story with the alleged result being a major selloff of GoPro stocks.  Here is NBC's video of the story:

If you have ever received a patent demand letter, you may have experienced a similar panic to that experienced by GoPro investors.  I try to always remind myself that all trees look the same from ten thousand feet and so it goes with patent claims.  We find that often claims don't read on an accused product and many times a product can be easily altered to avoid any argument of infringement.  I have no idea where GoPro should be valued, but looking at the claims issued to Apple in this particular patent, I'm not sure a 13% drop in value is merited.

If you take a look at the patent that Patently Apple reported (US U.S. Patent 8934045), the independent claim is where the action is.  You can identify the independent claims because they won't start with a reference to another claim and they tend to be quite long.  In this patent, the only independent claim is the first claim.  It is a doosy, so feel free to skip over reading it:

"A digital camera system, comprising: an image capture module including: a first image capture system including: a first image sensor for capturing a digital image; and a first optical system for forming an image of a first portion of a scene onto the first image sensor; and a first wireless communication system; and a remote control module including: a remote control status display including one or more remote control status display elements for displaying status information pertaining to the image capture module; a battery-operated power supply; one or more remote control user controls; a second wireless communication system for communicating with the first wireless communication system using a wireless interface; and a power management system providing a normal-power state where the remote control status display and the second wireless communication system are active and a low-power state where the remote control status display and the second wireless system are inactive; wherein when none of the remote control user controls have been activated for a predefined first time interval the power management system sets the remote control module to operate in the low-power state; and wherein when a user activates one of the remote control user controls while the remote control module is in the low-power state: the power management system sets the remote control module to operate in the normal-power state; the remote control module sends a status inquiry to the image capture module using the second wireless communication system, and in response the image capture module sends status information back to the remote control module using the first wireless communication system; and the status information is displayed using the remote control status display elements of the remote control status display."

I've bolded what I think is the crux of the claim: it is a wireless power management system for a remote control to preserve battery life when not communicating with a camera.  It is a pretty cool claim, but is it really worthy of a significant impact on GoPro's stock?  Let's think about this.  The claim is quite long, so it requires a lot of elements to be infringed.  The claim requires the power management system to be on the remote control, and not necessarily on the camera.  It requires two wireless communication systems.  And, it really has little to do with a camera, other than it requires a camera.

At this point, we start to see that this patent might not be that big a deal to GoPro.  For starters, are remote controls really GoPro's core business?  Does the GoPro remote require two wireless communication systems?  If so, is this type of power management system key?  If so, did GoPro already do this a year before the patent application's 2012 filing date?  You start to see that there are lots of options, and many times that is the end of it.

On the practical side, it can be helpful to consider the practical business implications.  For instance, why would Apple jump into the sports camera market?  Why would it launch a new product based on old Kodak patents?  More likely, Apple was pulling what it could out of this application.

Also, wouldn't it make more sense for Apple to release some sort of universal remote control app as part of its new iWatch rather than a camera system?  I think so, and this would mean Apple has every incentive to make sure its technology plays well with all third-party hardware it could control.

Next time you have concern about a patent, GoPro and try not to panic like an everyday investor. It's nothing like doing 9 front flips off an insanely tall tower:


The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Justin F. McNaughton
In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions