The Polaroid Selfie may be cool, but Oppo’s legal department seems to think otherwise


polaroid selfie

When we gave you guys a quick look at Polaroid’s latest smartphones, we noted that one device in particular — the Polaroid Selfie — looked a lot like the Oppo N3. That comparison was made mainly due to the device’s top-mounted swivel camera, a module that allows you to take either rear or front photos with the simple swing of the puck holding the camera and LED flash.

But the bad news for Polaroid is that we weren’t the only ones who noticed this similarity. The aforementioned Oppo caught wind of Polaroid’s goods from CES earlier this week themselves, and you can imagine they weren’t necessarily delighted with what they saw.

Oppo_N1_Front_ViewThere is one fundamental difference between the modules on the Oppo N3 and the Polaroid Selfie: the former’s camera swivel is motorized and can be moved without having to touch it, while the Polaroid Selfie requires manual adjustment.

Of course, that doesn’t mean much considering the Oppo N1 (pictured to the right, review right here) first brought this interesting design in manual fashion, so Oppo has dibs to the “first” and “mine” claims on both fronts.

And if Oppo is to be believed, this isn’t a simple call-out: they’ve actually patented this design, and they tell Phandroid that they won’t hesitate to pursue legal action to make sure they protect what’s rightfully theirs. Said in context by Oppo:

OPPO has not licensed the design of the rotating camera to any third parties, nor has us done that in any OEM way. We will continue to keep track of the event and reserves the right to take further legal action.

The word “design” in the quote above is worth noting, as there is a clear distinction between a utility patent (one that describes a function) and a design patent (one that describes the implementation or design of a function) according to the USPTO.

It’s possible Oppo is referring to the design of the swivel, which they certainly have grounds to call foul on considering the two modules look almost indistinguishable. Of course, if Oppo’s patent was registered at a different patent office that recognizes different definitions, things could be a bit iffy.

That tidbit also becomes very noteworthy when you consider Oppo wasn’t the first to utilize a swiveling camera. Samsung’s old PocketPC device i700 — seen below — had a swiveling camera of its own, though the design of it is much different. (Thanks to Hoby in the comments section for the assist!)

samsung i700 swiveling camera

Phandroid attempted to track down the patents in question in either the United States Patent and Trademark Office or Chinese patent and trademark offices to see if we can gain a better understanding of what Oppo believes Polaroid is infringing, but we have been unable to find them as of the time of this writing.

We’ve requested a copy or a link to the patents from Oppo, but in the meantime we can’t help but to think they have pretty good reason to feel slighted. We’ve reached out to both Oppo and Polaroid for further comment, and will provide updates as we get them.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Haha they can’t even put together a successful launch and now they think they can put together a super legal team to go after a ridiculous rotating patent? What a crass move from a nobody. Not a good look One plus.

    1. I believe you have these companies confused. OnePlus is not the same company as Oppo, though, they are a subsidiary.

      1. Aha you are correct I did jump the gun. It must really show for my disdain for the One plus launch debacle. I’ll take pie to the face on this one.

  2. “There is one fundamental difference between the modules on the Oppo N3 and the Polaroid Selfie: the latter’s camera swivel is motorized and can be moved without having to touch it, while the Polaroid Selfie requires manual adjustment.”

    You mean ‘former’

    Latter = last
    Former = first

    1. Yep, sorry about that. Got a couple wires tangled. Should be fixed now, thanks!

  3. Wow I had a rotating camera on my Samsung i700 pocket pc back in the day… nothing new here.

    1. Right, OPPO is talking a big game but nothing will come of it

  4. A Chinese company who’s upset that their design has been stolen, cry me a fucking river Oppo. Why don’t you tell your Chinese brethren over at Xiaomi to stop blantantly copying Apple. The only difference here is that in China, Xiaomi is protected within their countries borders, so that Apple can’t sue and if they try to, there’s no copyright protection in China. But I guess Oppo can sue other companies outside of China. My how that seems to work out so well for them.

    1. Oppo hates Xiaomi and has done a number of things to set them apart from Xiaomi (such as, for example, complying with the GPL for their devices and cooperating with community developers, which has led to them being quite successful with the enthusiast crowd).

    2. This polaroid phone is a complete clone, even the icons in the sofware are taken straight from Oppos Color OS. Xiaomi might have taken some inspiration from apple but they have their own take on everything. I’ve actually seen people draw the most stupid comparisons between Apple and Xiaomi with things that look absolutely nothing alike. It’s ridiculous, my opinion.. Americans (and apple fanboys) don’t like seeing American companies having some competition from foreign companies relatively unknown to them.

      Which Apple product does the redmi series phones resemble? What about the mi3? The power bank, piston earphones, air purifier, mi bunnies, miband, canon speaker? The mi4 comes in white, and has stainless steel border (so does the galaxy alpha and a plethora of other phones) Wow what a blatant rip off!

      Let’s not forget how Apples iphone 5c took obvious ‘inspiration’ from the lumia series. And all those original features added to ios 7 which were already available in Android.

  5. Sony was doing it earlier than Samsung with the Clie line of Palm-compatibles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CLI%C3%89

    Follow the next to last external link on WikiPedia leads to http://www.sonyclie.org/models.html

    1. My old Samsung had a flip phone that had a swiveling camera as well. I doubt Oppo has any legal case here.

  6. The Sony PSP camera also rotated 180 degrees… but that’s not a cellphone. I don’t think Oppo has a chance on this one in any case.

    1. I think since its a design they do. I’m assuming its related to how the HTC G2 (HTC Desire Z) was. The henge used to connect the keyboard was different than other Qwerty phones. So if another manufacturer made a phone with similar design, HTC could sue. Based on the design and not the utility, which is the Qwerty keyboard being connected. The design being how the keyboard is connected.

  7. Anyone else think the real reason Oppo is upset is because the Polaroid device has more buzz surrounding it than theirs ?

    1. The only reason it has buzz is because it’s a blatant knockoff copy.

      It looks identical but the internals are cheap crap (720p, MTK processor, etc.) – which can potentially make Oppo look bad.

      It’s not about just a rotating camera, it’s about a rotating camera which is implemented in the EXACT same way as the N1. Everything about it is a clone of the N1 – the bezel design, the sensor used, the positioning of the LEDs. The only things that aren’t a clone of the N1 are:
      5.5″ 720p display (instead of 5.9″ 1080p) – closer to the N3 in size but not resolution
      crappy MTK CPU instead of Snapdragon 600 (the N3 has an 801)

      1. Polaroid is a much bigger name than Oppo. Just saying the name garners much more familiarity. Familiarity equals buzz, justifiable buzz. Its likely Oppo never patented the camera fully, and now in light of the Polaroid buzz, its now upset it didnt. The only thing remotely the same is the rotating camera. Its “identical” if you think a rectangle shaped phone is special.

        1. Polaroid isn’t a bigger name. They were bigger. nobody has used a Polaroid camera in over a decade. They are smallest of the small fries in the cellular industry.

          They have some clout in the copy machine industry but barely.

          1. Not referring to the cellular industry.
            Stop anyone on the street and ask them if they heard of Oppo and you will get confused looks. Ask them if they heard of Polaroid , instant recognition. Thats what I’m referring to. It’s sad I have to keep repeating essentially the same sentence in different ways for you people to understand a simple sentence.

          2. People read what they want to see, not what you actually typed.

          3. Aint that the truth ! lol.

        2. It may be a much bigger name in the US but not here in Asia.

          1. Sorry. Yes in the states.

  8. I had a samsung slider phone back in like 06 that had a swiveling phone.

  9. Hahahaha, the Chinese complaining about copyright infringement. Hahaha, that’s a good one!

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