No matter what the current dual camera trend implies about the R&D departments of Samsung, Apple, and the like, most of the efforts started not in Seoul or Cupertino, but rather in Israel's pretty amazing startup culture. With thousands of young firms working on anything from biosimilars to groundbreaking camera technologies, Israel has been a hub of entrepreneurship and creativity for a good while now, and the Israeli startup Corephotonics has been working on "multi-aperture imaging technologies" for years, with the first patent filed way back in 2013. We even probed Corephotonics about their zoom tech
for phones achieved with two lenses, one wide, one narrow, set at different levels, and came away impressed, as you can see in the video above. This was back in 2014.
Fast forward to today, and you know which phones have such a technology? Well, pin them from Apple all the way to Xiaomi's new Mi 6
. Apple, however, was the company that first introduced such a zooming phone, the iPhone 7 Plus
, and at the time we thought that it has worked with Corephotonics on its development, as the Israelis hinted they have lined up a few big customers, and Samsung even invested in the startup, but came up with the dual camera Note 8
much later in the game.
Well, now Corephotonics is suing Apple for infringing on their dual camera and zoom patents with the iPhone 7 Plus
and 8 Plus
, and says that Apple's lead negotiator even mocked the viability of their patents during their potential partnership talks. "Apple’s lead negotiator expressed contempt for Corephotonics’ patents, telling Dr. Mendlovic and others that even if Apple infringed, it would take years and millions of dollars in litigation before Apple might have to pay something
," says the filing.
While that is certainly true, and Apple has plenty of patents of its own that describe dual camera features in all forms and versions, the Israeli startup's tech seems to be preceding those. Still, we don't know what conditions has Corephotonics set for the use of their camera tech, as we all know that in business negotiations the price haggles can get nasty for all sides involved, and it might be a case of sour grapes for the Israelis. Given Apple's size, though, it might have been perfectly aware that it can develop the idea on its own, without having to shell out for the Corephotonics intellectual property. Where does that leave the iPhone X
, which also uses its two cameras for similar shenanigans? Well, it remains to be seen whether Corephotonics will include it in the lawsuit at a later stage, but the Israelis have hired the same lawfirm that represented Samsung in its patent fights with Apple
, so it has a battle-hardened legal team on its side to take on the team from Cupertino.