When Sony registered its sort-of-new A7R IV(a) and A7 III(a) models recently, it also threw in another registration, according to Nokishita. We expect that camera, too, to be an only very slightly-upgraded revision of one of its other bodies, possibly Sony’s A9 II.

Such slight revision, while calling the camera a new model, could indicate a deliberate attempt to protect current camera production from intellectual property claims. When a company sues a manufacturer for patent infringement, a powerful negotiating tool is asking one or more major market countries to ban the sales of a particular model that uses the technology. To reduce liability, the original manufacturer can revise the model – either to engineer around the protected patent, or even just to force the patent holder to start a completely new complaint process on the new model.

Camera manufacturers frequently tweak the production process and components for greater efficiency and cost savings, as well as reducing potential service liabilities. But those changes almost never result in a revision of the product name.

Samsung was accused of quickly pushing out sham revisions of its flagship cell phone when Apple was suing it for patent infringement during the early days of the phone wars. While there were some small upgrades to the new model, Sony let the cameras release quietly.