Many believe that this patent is invalid altogether, claiming that the “white backdrop, shiny floor” technique has been employed for ages by photographers who wish to reduce or eliminate the need for post-processing and retouching. To them, Amazon is illegitimately claiming ownership of an obvious and decidedly non-novel idea. There are even grassroots efforts cropping up trying to prove the existence of such prior art, drawing responses from long-retired photography professors and more recent practitioners alike, in the hopes of overturning this patent that Colbert mercilessly satirized.
To be sure, Colbert oversimplified the perceived threat here, claiming that “if anyone displays something on a white background, Amazon could serve them with a lawsuit.” It’s the very specific process of setting up that shot that is being patented here, not the aesthetic look of the resulting photograph. However, the concern is still very real for some photographers and publishers who worry that the broad terminology used in the patent’s claims and disclaimer-heavy closing paragraphs will serve as a catch-all that could potentially be used against anyone suspected of infringing on the internet giant’s business. Amazon hasn’t come after any photographers yet (as far as we know), so only time will tell if they’re planning on flexing their patent muscles in a potential anti-competitive manner.