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No, no, GoPro

11 May 2017

I think that most people reading this column will be aware of the GoPro series of action cameras.

When they were first released, these cameras changed the face of recreational "action video" making and they have retained a reputation for solid quality and exceptional performance.

If you want an action camera you can rely on and which will deliver top-quality video then just buy a GoPro -- nothing simpler.

Of course every success has its imitators and the GoPro Hero action cameras are no exception. A quick look around the mass of online shopping sites will reveal that GoPro Hero "look alike" cameras are now a dime a dozen and available from countless suppliers.

By and large, most of them work quite well but few can hold a candle to a genuine GoPro camera. Many of the cheaper action cameras are deficient in terms of picture quality, build quality or other aspects of their performance -- but this is reflected in their much lower price.

So you'd think that GoPro had nothing to worry about... right?

Well apparently they are worried and, in an incredibly ironic move for a Chinese company, have threatened to sue a competitor for infringing their look and feel.

At this stage I have to say that I'm left bewildered and confused by this move on the part of GoPro. GoPro Hero "lookalike" cameras have been on the market for many years and GoPro have not taken action to protect the look and feel of these devices -- so why are they now getting all lawyered-up to deal with one offender?

Well perhaps it's because the allegedly infringing camera isn't a Hero look-alike, it's a camera with the same form-factor as the new GoPro Session -- a cute little cube-shaped camera that has become very popular amongst drone racers, mainly due to its small size and robustness.

Now I don't see that the drone-racing market is anything like a significant chunk of GoPro's total business but they seem to be hell-bent on killing the Runcam 3, at least in the US marketplace.

Seriously?

I mean... the Runcam 3 is bright orange for goodness sake! :-)

Apparently GoPro are claiming that the Runcam infringes its patents which relate to having the power button on top of the cube.

Fair dinkum? Are you shirting me?

If GoPro can fire up its lawyers over something as stupid as this, surely it's time for Polaroid to get its sharks in the water to sue because the Session clearly infringes the look and feel of this camera which was released long before the GoPro offering.

The reality is that I think GoPro is really hurting of late and it's now grasping at straws to try and protect its position in emerging markets, such as the drone one.

The release of the GoPro Karma was an utter fiasco, with every single unit having to be recalled for a safety repair after it was found that they would fall out of the sky at random. The liability issues associated with a flaw like that are just too much to even contemplate. They had no option though... to ignore the problem would likely have seen them sued to oblivion.

As a result, they took a huge hit on that product and even though it has since been re-released, it's selling like bacon sandwiches in a synagogue.

Even worse for GoPro, the makers of other action cameras have really started lifting their game and rolling out some Hero-killer units at knock-down prices.

Perhaps GoPro has decided it's time to litigate rather than innovate? What a shame.

However, I guess you know that the Chinese tech industry has reached maturity when they're now forced to sue each other to protect their IP.

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