October 22, 2015

Sudden Disappearance of Sunwayfoto Panning Clamps

Sunwayfoto Panning Clamp Series

Many are wondering what happened to all Sunwayfoto Panning Clamps showing recently a discontinued or out of stock status in the US based stores.
Yet, all products combining a Sunwayfoto panning clamp have also disappeared.

Well, the reason behind the disappearance of all Sunwayfoto Panning Clamps and their combinations from the US market has nothing to do with conspiracy theories or the involvement of extraterrestrials. It is as simple as a patent dispute.

RRS® who hold a series of published patents, all on the same "Panoramic Camera Mount", which is actually their well known PC panning clamp,  have decided to go after any device looking similar to theirs, falling under the concept of a panning clamp.
Although in my humble opinion Sumwayfoto's panning and pan locking mechanisms are substantially different, offering very compact solutions, while the "panning clamp concept" in general is a refinement of an old Arca-Swiss® pivoting clamp; my opinion is irrelevant and useless here since even if one disagrees about the patented design approach or the concept, any dispute has to be resolved in court.

And here is the catch. Even hiring an Attorney with decent Patent Expertise requires an investment of far more than the profit one would make selling panning clamps in ten years. Therefore, it is extremely expensive to start up a patent dispute just for the sake of who's right or wrong.
In this respect, the party holding a patent in the US has a privilege, so Sunwayfoto and their distributors have withdrawn all products involved.

However, I do not see any gains for RRS® either. By depriving other brands from selling similar products officially in the US market, do they expect the consumers turn to their premium priced products? Will this stop the flood of non branded cheapo Chinese clones (even Sunwayfoto clones) entering the market?

Recent history has proven that giants like Apple® and Samsung® decided to settle their patent infringement war, looking at the waste of time and money with only benefiting party the Law Firms involved.
On the other hand, very few are aware that the Cassette or the CD were original inventions patented by the Dutch, Philips Electronics Co, while many believe that they were invented by a sub-licensee the Japanese SONY® who made them famous with Walkman® and Diskman®. In the latter situation all parties profited.
Just some food for thought.

I hope you found the information useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos & Photosynths: © 2015 S.C.Vlachos

Despite the situation in the US, all current Sunwayfoto Panning Clamp models i.e. the DDH-04, DDH-05 and DDH-06 are still available from eBay as well as the IRC-64 (Indexed Rotator Clamp) is available from eBay\.

Same goes for products combined with Panning Clamps, i.e. ball heads and Pano series heads.
The above links refer to products shipped from Europe or Asia, therefore tax, duties or other expenses may apply.

Referenced Articles:

Panning Clamp Previews / Reviews

Relevant Articles:

Sunwayfoto Updated DDH Series of Panning Clamps Preview

Sunwayfoto New DDH-05 Compact Panning Clamp Review

Sunwayfoto IRC-64 Panoramic Indexing Rotator Clamp Review

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