In what could be a pretty nasty situation for Sigma, Nikon has filed a patent infringement suit in Japan against the competing lens maker. The number of products which use the alleged infringing technology was not disclosed in Nikon’s public statement; however, the dispute centers an unknown number of Sigma lenses using vibration reduction technology.
Nikon is seeking monetary damages for past infringement (said to be in the neighborhood of $150 million), as well as an injunction against Sigma to prevent further infringement. And, it’s that second part that should be very scary for Sigma. An injunction is a court order that either requires a party to the lawsuit to either “do” or “refrain from doing” a certain activity.
If Nikon prevails in this lawsuit, Sigma could be forced to stop producing lenses with Optical Stabilization (i.e., Vibration Reduction in Nikon-speak), which, in turn, could be a death knell for the third-party lens maker.
Of course, Sigma has a lot of lenses that don’t feature Optical Stabilization; however, whether it could survive the a damage award of $150 million (and growing) and the loss of sales of Optical Stabilization lenses remains to be seen.
We’ll be watching closely over the next several months to see what happens in this case.