Apple has lost a patent battle against high-end pro camera company RED over a method used to compress RAW video footage.

The Cupertino company had claimed that RED should never have been awarded a patent for its ProRes RAW codec because the technology was obvious…

The codec is used in RED cameras to compress RAW video as it is captured. Other companies wanting to use it in their own devices have to pay a royalty. Apple had objected to that, reports Engadget.

Apple claimed that RED’s patent was strongly based on two other patents: One pertained to the capture of lossless RAW video at HD, 2K and 4K resolutions, while the other was for a processing technique that allowed for compression of RAW sensor data. Apple argued that since RED’s patent was a combination of two prior patents, its own technology was “unpatentable.”

RED fired back with in-depth responses stating that its work was unique from those patents, and that it had been working on the technology prior to the timeframe that Apple had claimed.

The patent court sided with RED, dismissing Apple’s case.

A patent court ruled that Apple “has not shown a reasonable likelihood that it would prevail” with claims that RED’s original 2007 patent was obvious and shouldn’t have been issued in the first place.

RED took a conciliatory tone in its own comments on the decision.

RED President Jarred Land said that “we are pleased to see our RedCode patents withstand another challenge,” adding that RED is still working with Apple to get RedCode on its Metal framework. “It has always been Apple + RED, and this was all part of the process defining how we work together in the future,” he said.

“To be clear, as I mentioned before, this never really was Apple vs. RED. It has always been APPLE + RED, and this was all part of the process defining how we work together in the future. RED integration with Apple’s METAL framework for realtime R3D playback is coming along well and the work that the two teams are doing together is exceeding expectations. We are very excited for the new Mac Pro and the new XDR pro display and the power they bring to the entire RED workflow.”

Apple introduced ProRes RAW in Final Cut Pro last year.

With Final Cut Pro 10.4.1, however, the ProRes landscape gets a lot more interesting. For the very first time, Apple is introducing ProRes RAW (see Apple’s ProRes RAW white paper) and an even higher quality variant appropriately entitled ProRes RAW HQ.

ProRes RAW, while still compressed, lends users the added in-post flexibility of a RAW workflow. ProRes RAW affords users the ability to work with untouched image data directly from the camera sensor. This means that you gain significant added flexibility for adjusting the way your video looks in post production using Final Cut Pro X’s upgraded color correction toolset — obviously great for HDR workflows.

ProRes RAW preserves more of the original sensor data than standard ProRes flavors, but does so in a way that results in much smaller files than uncompressed RAW video formats. What’s crazy is that ProRes RAW can be even smaller than some of the older versions of ProRes.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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