Kodak sues Apple, RIM over patents

Thu, 01/14/2010 - 7:05am
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

Kodak wants the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to stop the import of iPhones and BlackBerry devices it claims infringe on its image-viewing patents.

In a complaint filed with the ITC, Kodak claims that Apple’s iPhones and Research In Motion’s camera-enabled BlackBerry devices infringe a Kodak patent that covers technology related to a method for previewing images.

Kodak also filed lawsuits against Apple and RIM in a New York U.S. District Court over the same allegations. Company vice president and chief intellectual property officer Laura Quatela said that Kodak had tried to negotiate with Apple and RIM “for years” to resolve the alleged patent infringement.

“We are taking this action to ensure that we protect the interests of our shareholders and the existing licensees of our technology,” she said.

An ITC judge ruled in December that the Kodak patent covering color image preview (No. 6,292,218) was valid and enforceable, and that Samsung’s camera-enabled mobile devices infringed upon that Kodak patent.

Kodak has also filed a second lawsuit against Apple alleging infringement of patents that describe a method by which a computer program can “ask for help” from another application to carry out certain computer-oriented functions.

The patents at issue in the second suit were previously the subject of litigation between Kodak and Sun Microsystems, and in that case, a federal jury determined in a 2004 trial that Sun’s Java programming technology had infringed the patents. Kodak later settled the suit by agreeing to a payment from Sun in return for a license for the patents at issue.

Kodak has licensed digital imaging technology to approximately 30 companies, including such leading mobile device companies as LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, all of which are royalty-bearing to Kodak.

“We remain open to negotiating a fair and amicable agreement with both Apple and RIM, which has always been our preference and our practice with other licensees,” Quatela said. “We seek to avoid litigation in our licensing programs whenever possible. But when the infringement is persistent, we will act to defend the interests of our shareholders and licensees and to promote the fair compensation that is the bedrock of innovation.”

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