Amazon wins patent for taking photos against a white background. What!?

May 13, 2014


Amazon Receives Patent: Photographers Beware

Patents are important to protect relevant, unique inventions. However, as we have long reported, frivolous patent lawsuits can clog up the legal system and stifle innovation. Since the government grants patents so broad, it opens a gateway for hundred of companies to be sued for infringement. Perhaps this “patent trolling” is not always the case, but it can certainly become a Pandora’s Box. And this certainly seems to be the case with the recent patent Amazon received.

Photographers beware: the new patent is simply called “Studio Arrangement” and gives Amazon the exclusive right to photograph against a white background. It also details plans for specific lighting placement, a raised platform nine feet from the white backdrop, and several other lighting rigs.

While additional specifics are listed on the patent application, it raises the question of how this patent even came to be. White backgrounds and raised platforms have been a standard in photography. Also, can they sue someone for infringing this patent? And if so, how? When a photographer takes a shot against a white background, you cannot see their rigging, so enforcing this patent could prove to be difficult. Especially since someone could use a similar rigging, but change one of the elements just a little; for example, changing the size of the platform, solely to prevent an infringement.

Advertise at AG

Amazon initially filed for this patent in November of 2011, but this is not exactly a cutting-edge photographic innovation. The first thing that came to my mind was old Hollywood. A very similar setup was quite common on Hollywood sets and continues to be used in studios and stages. The technique Amazon’s patent describes as the “blow out” (to make the subject stand out from everything else), is nothing new. In addition to the techniques, the patent details the size of the lens, as well as, the ISO and f-stop settings. In essence what the government has allowed Amazon to do is patent the perfect shot. Unbelievable.

Photographers take heed, because Amazon may be coming to a studio near you, just to check your f-stop settings. Ridiculous.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at AG and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.


  1. ..

  2. Jennifer, I’m patenting my previous comment. :)

  3. How will they prove that it was made this way? is an inch enough to displace this ‘method’? cause I’ve taken pictures with white background for a while without this kind of setup and well… I obviously don’t have this kind of set up and don’t need it either.

  4. Guest – wow are you a know it all. This clearly states: Photographers beware: the new patent is simply called “Studio Arrangement” and gives Amazon the exclusive right to photograph against a white background. Do you have any proof that this article is incorrect or are you just one of those flap your gums cause you like the feel of it fellows? What, then, pray tell is the patent since you know so much about it?

  5. stfu this patent is fking ridiculous. That tesla patent example is stupid. All it takes to sue someone is the will and lawyers. People sue not based on the sht you said but if they have better lawyers than the next guy. There is no magical text that makes this BS better. GTFO

  6. This post merely points out the insanity of the patent process. The patent filing sounds unenforceable on it’s face. It’s stupid patent filing. You have the right to file a patent but enforcement is a different issue. I don’t think anyone has to worry about this one.

  7. LOL

Leave A Comment

eight + = 13