Rich Stroffolino

Cinestill, Trademarks, and Quality Reporting

In the analog photography world, there’s been a growing rumor mill around efforts by Cinestill to enforce it’s trademarks for its 800T film. If this is a totally foreign world to you, essentially Cinestill made a name for itself selling Kodak cinema film in still photography formats. Anyone could spool Kodak film into canisters before, but Cinestill differentiated with a process to remove a backing that otherwise prevents it from being developed in typical color chemistry.

All the discourse around this fundamentally misunderstood what a trademark is and what legal recourse CInestill could do with it. Luckily Jeremy Gray of PetaPixel actually did reporting on this. He looked into claims from the company CatLABS, got comment from Cinestill and people supposedly impacted by their actions, and provided context for how trademarks actually work (he spoke to lawyers)! It provides level headed stuff like this:

However, the very fact that the trademark application was originally rejected and then approved following additional explanation does not serve to undercut the legitimacy of the trademark itself. No trademark is inherently less legitimate just because it required the filer to provide additional explanation in order to be granted the trademark.

This probably won’t stop people from being mad at Cinestill. I’m fine with people voting with the dollar. But I’m grateful to still get quality reporting in a field as niche as film photography. It can be very insular and lead to a mob mentality on forums with very little regard to facts.