Tripod manufacturers Manfrotto and Benro have settled their patent dispute after Mamiya America Corporation (MAC Group) agreed not to market its GoClassic and GoTravel series of tripods in the USA. The battle between the two brands began when Benro began selling tripods that allow the center column to be lifted out of the collar and held at 90° to facilitate shooting directly downwards, an idea that Manfrotto claims is protected under a collection of patents it filed in December 2000.

Manfrotto said that the Benro design copied its own for ‘tripod camera supports wherein the column can be housed alternatively and removably either in a seat coaxial with the principal axis or in a second seat perpendicular to the principal axis’ that was first introduced in the Manfrotto Q90 range. Defendants MAC Group denied their products infringed Manfrotto’s protected designs and claimed that Manfrotto’s patent itself is invalid.

The case was resolved when Benro agreed not to sell the offending products in the USA, though Manfrotto has not agreed that this means Benro hasn’t infringed its rights. In the complaint Manfrotto claimed that MAC Group had achieved a great deal of success with its copied designs which had harmed Manfrotto’s income and market share. The company also accused MAC Group of poaching its employees, and demanded compensation not only for the infringement but also ‘treble damages’ as the Benro continued on its course even after Manfrotto filed its complaint.

For more information read the complaint and see Manfrotto’s original patent.

Press release:

Manfrotto Resolves Patent Infringement Lawsuit with MAC Group and Benro

Upper Saddle River, N.J. (August 16, 2016) – Manfrotto Distribution Inc., Lino Manfrotto +Co S.p.A., Mamiya America Corporation (MAC Group), and Benro Precision Industrial Co., Ltd. (“Benro”), announced today that they have resolved Manfrotto’s patent infringement lawsuit which has been pending in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Manfrotto and Lino Manfrotto had sued MAC Group and Benro contending that Benro’s GoClassic and GoTravel lines of tripods infringe Manfrotto’s U.S. Patent No. 6,164,843, for a photographic tripod providing support in various axes. MAC Group and Benro had denied that their products infringe and also contend that the patent was itself invalid.

Manfrotto is dismissing the litigation with prejudice and Benro and MAC Group have agreed not to import or sell the accused product in the United States until the expiration of the ’843 patent on November 12, 2018. The terms of the settlement are otherwise confidential.

Manfrotto Distribution Inc., and Lino Manfrotto +Co S.p.A., are Italian manufacturers of photographic equipment. Benro Precision Industrial Inc. is a Chinese-based manufacturer of photographic equipment. MAC Group is a New York-based distributor of photographic equipment.