Patent News | "Kodak loses patent case against Apple, RIM"

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Category : Patent News

NEW YORK - Eastman Kodak lost a ruling in a two-year legal fight against Apple and Research In Motion (RIM) over a patent for digital image-preview technology, a decision that may hurt the value of assets Kodak is selling.

RIM and Apple did not violate Kodak's rights because the patent is invalid, United States International Trade Commission Judge Thomas Pender said in a notice posted on the agency's website. Kodak said it will appeal the findings with the six-member commission in Washington, which has the power to block imports of products that infringe US patents.

Kodak, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, contends Apple already owes it more than US$1 billion (S$1.27 billion) in damages for infringement of this and other digital capture patents, according to a bankruptcy court filing this month. Kodak has said a victory in the case may force RIM and Apple to pay for licensing and bolster the value of patent portfolios the company is seeking to sell.

"It adds another risk factor, or concern, for anybody who's looking at the value of the IP portfolio, because Kodak is still looking to sell it," said analyst Shannon Cross, who follows Apple and Kodak at Cross Research.

The company's two digital patent portfolios may be its most valuable assets, reported Bloomberg. The patent in today's ruling is part of a portfolio of more than 1,100 related to digital capture that Kodak is selling. The other collection covers imaging systems and services.

The judge's recommendation "represents a preliminary step in a process that we are confident will conclude in Kodak's favour", Kodak's chief intellectual property officer Timothy Lynch said in a statement. "Kodak has invested billions of dollars to develop its pioneering digital imaging technology, and we intend to protect these valuable assets."

Together, the technology is valued at between US$2.21 billion to US$2.57 billion, based on an estimate by a patent advisory firm cited in a debtor's motion it filed before a US bankruptcy court in January.

The disputed patent, which Kodak claims is used in all modern cameras, covers a feature that previews low-resolution versions of a moving image while recording still images at a high resolution. Higher resolution requires more processing power and storage space. Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics have already paid US$964 million in settlements to Kodak for using the technology.

Judge Pender said that the aspect of the patent that was in the case covered an obvious variation of earlier inventions. He did say that, were it valid, BlackBerry devices and the Apple iPhone 3G would infringe it, while the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 do not.

A different judge at the agency found the patent valid and infringed by Samsung, "whose products are similar to those offered by Apple and RIM," Mr Lynch said. The US Patent and Trademark Office also took a second look at the patent and upheld it in December 2010, Kodak said.

The case looked only at older versions of BlackBerry phones, said Mr Tom Sanchez, vice president of licensing and standards, in charge of all aspects of patents at RIM. The company hasn't seen the judge's full determination. While pleased with the finding that there was no violation, RIM will ask the commission to review his finding of infringement, he said. AGENCIES

Source :,-RIM