Body camera manufacturers duke it out over patent claim

The market for officer-worn cameras is small, with around a dozen or so manufacturers duking it out for law enforcement agency contracts, some worth millions of dollars.

A lawsuit filed in Kansas federal court claims TASER International infringed on a patent secured by rival Digital Ally which covers a system for managing the recordings of multiple devices.

“Given our investment and superior implementation of the technology and its importance to the safety of officers and our communities, Digital Ally could not sit silently while TASER misappropriated our intellectual property and used our very own inventions to compete against us,” said Stanton Ross, CEO of Kansas-based Digital Ally, in a statement issued last month.

The January complaint alleges TASER, under the Axon brand, built its “overall recording system ecosystem” on Digital Ally’s own VuLink product, which allows for multiple recording devices to be “automatically and simultaneously activated” over a wireless network and triggered through an event like a patrol car’s light bar or siren being activated, an officer manually activating a device on the network, removing a shotgun from its holding rack, a vehicle crash, or the activation of a smart weapon linked to the system.

“TASER’s own statements, press releases, and website blog make clear that it used Digital Ally’s pioneering patented technology as the basis for its Axon Signal product,” the complaint alleges. “For example, TASER recently admitted that its system “built upon the old technology described in the Digital Ally patent.”

The complaint offered an exhibit – a print screen from website InvestorsHub, which offers not an admittance of patent infringement on the part of TASER, but an announcement that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied Digital Ally’s claim. The post originated on TASER’s website.

“We are very pleased that the USPTO has issued a final office action rejecting as invalid all of the original claims of this patent. The amended or new claims that were allowed contain substantial limitations that move TASER products even further from these claims,” said Doug Klint, TASER’s general council.

Both companies declined to comment on the case.

Digital Ally is being represented by the Erise Intellectual Property firm, which has handled cases for Dynamic Research Technologies Ammo, Ambush Archery and Andy Ross, as well as well as cases involving action cameras for Garmin International, motion tracking technology for Ubisoft and Sony Computer Entertainment America and camera functionality for Sony with its Playstation 3 and 4 products, a spokesperson told Guns.com.

On TASER’s side is Shook, Hardy & Bacon, which has represented clients in major actions involving Remington Arms, Smith & Wesson and General Dynamics, according to the firm’s website.     

Digital Ally has requested the venue for the case be in Kansas and seeks a trial by jury. TASER has until March 8 to answer or otherwise plead to the court, according to documents.