The U.S. Patent Office awarded patent no. 8,676,045 to on Friday. Why is this noteworthy? It turns out Amazon now has a patent on what is essentially the standard studio setup used by photographers since the advent of modern photography.

The patent is simply titled “Studio arrangement” and is an incredibly specific, but remarkably universal photography setup for shooting against a seamless white background. Apart from all the technical jargon, the patent claims the setup saves time and money in post-processing (a.k.a Photoshop).

The patent claim lists where to place lighting, the camera (preferably pointing at the object being photographed) and their preferred camera settings right down to the size and focal length of the lens.

Amazon even offers this almost comical flow chart for those who are confused about how to take a picture of something:

amazon2 Amazon's flow chart Photo: U.S. Patent Office


Amazon also got away with patenting variations on the setup they described down to the f-stop:

“… the above-described embodiments of the present disclosure are merely possible examples of implementations set forth for a clear understanding of the principles of the disclosure. Many variations and modifications may be made to the above-described embodiment(s) without departing substantially from the spirit and principles of the disclosure. All such modifications and variations are intended to be included herein within the scope of this disclosure and protected by the following claims.”

As DIY Photography blog points out, there’s basically no way for Amazon to enforce the patent, so studio photographers shouldn’t be shaking in their boots and trying to rewrite studio photography basics to get around the Amazon patent. If Amazon can’t enforce the patent though, why did they file it in the first place?

Maybe Amazon is actually doing this to shed light (very specifically placed light) on how ridiculous the patent system has become. Or maybe they’re just taking a roundabout way of offering their tried and true way of photographing USB extenders for the general public.