Contour, the action camera company with roots in the Seattle region, has filed a patent-infringement suit against market leader GoPro — but the smaller rival wants to make it clear that this isn’t an end game for the company.
In an interview today, Contour CEO James Harrison said the company has spent the past year positioning Contour to make another run, launching the Roam 3 camera and re-establishing itself at retail so that Contour cameras are once again sold in 43 countries.
“It was a year in which we really built the foundation on which we’re going to be able to build again this year,” Harrison said. “There’s tremendous interest in Contour. The brand is well-recognized. It’s got a huge fan base, a very loyal fan base, but also we’re recognized by the retailers and distributors who want to work with us.”
So why go after GoPro for patent infringement at this point? The patents (#8890954 and #8896694) date back to 2010, but they were just granted in November. Contour is suing GoPro based on allegations that the patents are infringed by GoPro’s remote viewfinder feature, which connects the camera wirelessly to a smartphone so that the user can see what’s being recorded.
“This is an invention that was revolutionary at the time and is still an incredibly important part of the action camera,” Harrison said.
In its lawsuit, filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Utah, Contour seeks an injunction to prevent GoPro from infringing on the patents. The company is also seeking monetary damages.
“As demonstrated by GoPro’s meteoric increase in sales of infringing products, the patented technology has displaced, and will continue to displace, from the market cameras not equipped with wireless capabilities,” the suit reads. “As the owner of the Patents, Plaintiff is entitled to the exclusive use and exploitation of the Patents to capture market share in the area of personal cameras. Plaintiff will be irreparably injured during the pendency of this action unless GoPro, its direct competitor, is enjoined from infringing the Patents because Plaintiff will be unable to acquire the share of the market to which its exclusive use of the Patents would otherwise cause.”
GoPro has yet to respond to the suit, and a spokesman for the company, based in San Mateo, Calif., did not respond to a message seeking comment on the case earlier today.
Contour, originally founded in Seattle by two University of Washington students, closed suddenly in 2013 but was later acquired out of receivership with a winning bid of more than $1.9 million from one of its investors, Clarke Capital Partners of Salt Lake City. Jason Green, who founded Contour in 2004 in Seattle with Marc Barros, rejoined Contour after the acquisition as chief technology officer.
Here’s Contour general counsel Rob Mooney discussing the case with Bloomberg News.