PocketWizard lawsuit may keep Phottix Atlas out of USA

LPA Design, the company behind PocketWizards, have filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Phottix for their Atlas radio trigger.

Phottix Atlas

The 344MHz (FCC) frequency Phottix Atlas radio trigger has an uncertain future in the USA after a lawsuit was filed by the manufacturers of PocketWizards, LPA Design. The company allege that the Atlas – which is compatible with and functionally similar to PocketWizard Plus IIs – infringes on some of their patents. The Atlas is also branded as the Interfit Titan Pro and the Calumet Pro Series Wireless Transceiver.

Whatever the outcome of the lawsuit, it should not affect availability of the trigger outside the USA. The 433MHz version has been on sale around the world since June. Phottix’s Steven Peer said the company had no comment to give at this time.

Further reading

LPA Design press release

South Burlington, Vermont, USA: On Friday, January 7, 2010, LPA Design of So. Burlington filed a complaint for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the District of Vermont against Phottix (HK) Ltd. and Eternal Fortune (HK) Ltd, alleging that the Phottix Atlas wireless flash trigger produced in China infringes upon two patents held by LPA. The Vermont-based company, incorporated as LAB Partner Associates, Inc., is the maker of the industry-leading PocketWizard® line of high precision wireless control devices for the professional photography market, including the popular PocketWizard Plus II™.

The PocketWizard technology allows professional photographers to control complex lighting systems remotely from the body of a camera. It is particularly useful in studio, sports and event photography, and has become the industry standard as a result of sustained research and development conducted in Vermont.

“LPA was an early and ground-breaking contributor to the technology and market for professional quality wireless flash triggers,” said Tim Neiley, CEO and President of LPA. “LPA has worked hard to bring its patented technologies to market though constant innovation and improvement always with a view to the needs of the professional photographer. This lawsuit is necessary to protect our investment in innovation.”

LPA holds patents in the United States and throughout the world directed to its proprietary wireless triggering technology. The patents in the lawsuit cover fundamental technology in radio communications between wireless trigger devices and the innovative auto-switching transceiver introduced for the first time in the PocketWizard Plus II™ wireless trigger.

The patents LPA is asserting include:

  • United States Patent No. 5,359,375 issued for an invention entitled “Microprocessor Programmable Digital Remote Radio Photographic Control.”
  • United States Patent No. 7,437,063 issued for an invention entitled “wireless Camera Flash Synchronizer System and Method.”

Founded in 1990 as an electronics R&D consulting company, LPA Design has expertise in printed circuit board design, RF communications and antenna optimization, and remote sensors. Among other innovations, LPA developed the industry leading PocketWizard® line of high precision wireless control devices for the professional photography market. PocketWizard® products provide ultra-high precision, wireless synchronization of cameras, flash lighting, and light meters, allowing professional photographers to create unparalleled photographs and achieve unmatched reliability in capturing high value images.

LPA is represented by Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC in Burlington, Vermont.

David Selby
Based in Paris, France, David Selby is editor of Lighting Rumours, a part-time photographer and a quantitative analyst.
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