Polaroid may have only returned to its instant-film roots in September, but the company will soon be headed to court to keep the iconic instant-squareprints exclusive to the brand. A back-and-forth between the two companies has been ongoing since January, so Polaroid and Fujifilm will soon be in court to determine if Fujifilm Instax Square violates Polaroid’s trademark.
The issue became an official court matter when Fujifilm asked the U.S. District Court for assistance, filing a formal complaint in the Southern District of New York last week. The two companies have not yet appeared in court.
Fujifilm launched square-format film earlier in 2017, much to the delight of Instax fans. But Polaroid soon after sent the company a letter saying that their film was trademarked by Polaroid. When nothing changed, Polaroid threatened Fujifilm with a lawsuit, asking the company to take the square film off the market. A third letter in June demanded royalty payments when the film was still on the market.
While Polaroid made the first complaint, Fujifilm was the company that finally made it a legal matter, filing a formal complaint. According to court documents, Fujifilm said that after being “unable to return to profitability through product sales” Polaroid “now seeks to generate revenue from what remains of the Polaroid IP Portfolio.” According to Fujifilm, Instax Square doesn’t violate Polaroid’s trademarks.
Fujifilm first teased the upcoming launch of square-instant film in September, slowly releasing more details until launching the film alongside a new camera designed for that format, the Fujifilm SQ10, at the start of 2017.
When Fujifilm brought out instant square film — and when Polaroid sent the first letter — the company wasn’t producing that iconic square film after discontinuing film production in 2008. The Impossible Project bought out its last factory in order to sell instant film alongside its refurbished vintage Polaroids. The Impossible Project then became a majority shareholder in Polaroid, with Impossible Project becoming Polaroid Originals. Now, Polaroid Originals is producing instant film, along with the company’s first new (rather than refurbished) instant camera in several years, the Polaroid OneStep 2.
While Polaroid was the first for that iconic instant film, Fujifilm created a niche market in instant film while Polaroid left the business and started designing digital cameras with built-in printers and selling licensing rights for products like drones. In 2016, Fujifilm’s instant cameras outsold their pricier digital cameras by nearly four times.
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