Judge forbids Apple from pursuing Kodak patent claim

Judge forbids Apple from pursuing Kodak patent claim

Summary: Apple cannot pursue a patent infringement claim through the courts against Kodak while the company is still in bankruptcy, a judge has ruled.

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TOPICS: Apple, Legal
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Apple has been told it cannot pursue a patent infringement case against once-leading photography giant Kodak, as it was found to be an "inappropriate way forward" after it was declared bankrupt.

Apple had previously asked a U.S. bankruptcy judge for permission to take the case against Kodak.

Judge Allan Gropper, who oversees Kodak's bankruptcy filing, also known as a Chapter 11, disallowed the suit. The case was centered on a Kodak patent that allows users to preview digital photos on LCD screens. Apple separately sought to determine the ownership of the patent.

A Kodak spokesperson said the company was "pleased", according to Reuters.

But Apple is persisting with taking Kodak to court, or being compensated for the alleged infringement of its patents. Gropper agreed that the case needs to be resolved and "sooner rather than later", but also in a way that it does not impede on Kodak's ongoing bankruptcy case.

Apple is fighting back from a claim made by Kodak in early 2010 when it asked the International Trade Commission to investigate if Apple's iPhone breaches a Kodak-owned patent.

Apple hit back by later filing its own claims against Kodak, and claimed that Kodak "misappropriated" its technology to get the patent, something it called "baseless".

Kodak is looking to sell its patent portfolio, thought to be in the region of 1,100 received applications, which would be worth as much as $2--3 billion. Since 2008, Kodak has generated nearly $2 billion in royalties and licensing fees from patents it retains.

"I would request that the parties report to me on their efforts to come up with a procedure that truly works," the judge said.

Kodak is being held together by a $950 million loan, allowing the company to remain active while it seeks a post-bankruptcy strategy. But Kodak had accused Apple of stalling the patent sale process, which must be rounded off by June under the terms of the loan.

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Topics: Apple, Legal

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32 comments
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  • Umm, what part of "they don't have the money to pay you" . . .

    Umm, what part of "they don't have the money to pay you" does Apple not understand?

    Companies don't go into bankruptcy just for kicks, you know.

    *big facepalm*
    CobraA1
    • I know, right?

      It's like me shaking down homeless person for money.
      Aerowind
    • That's not the issue.

      Kodak is trying to sell something whose ownership is in dispute.

      Try selling something you may not own, and see what happens.
      msalzberg
    • Money isn't directly the issue

      but the question of Kodak possibly having Apple patents is.

      Kodak is trying to sell off it's patents and, from reports, Apple doesn't want any IP it may own sold off to a 3rd party (eg, "cough" Google "cough").

      Other reports have stated that Kodak must go thru the bankruptcy court before it sells off any patents so Apple may not have anything immediate to worry about but it appears to be covering it's bases.

      Until true ownership of Kodak's patent portfolio is resolved, Apple has every right to protect it's perceived interests.
      MacCanuck
      • " perceived interests" ?

        So because someone, or some business, "percieves" they "own" something...therefore they do?

        How about I "percieve" I own the US government? Afterall I have paid them a LOT of money in taxes over the past 50 years...so I MUST own some part of it. Right? So they shouldn't be allowed to do anything until I say so.

        That's your rational.
        IT_Fella
      • Perceived interests?

        Isn't this the same company that wanted to patent certain letters of the alphabet?

        I find it amazing as to the variety of things that some companies are successful in convincing the Patent Office as being "their intellectual property". A lot of times they wrong on both counts. Very often they use claims of intellectual property as a means of conducting anti-competitive business.

        Add this activity to the Patent Trolls who have no use for the patents they collect other than to sue and otherwise sweat cash out of soft targets it's no wonder why this country is on the short end of the innovation stick.
        William_Collins@...
    • Apple may be hoping to force Kodak to give them their patents outright

      having Kodak to decide what is better - being forced into using their 950 million loan to defend against this suit that Kodak will likely win, or take the money and run, hope for the best one day?
      William Farrel
  • Good!

    Going after them was the lowest of the low!
    slickjim
  • Apple owns it all I say!

    Even though the first digital camera with an LCD on it was in 1995 (wikipedia) and was the casio QV-11. That's 10 whole years before Apple and their iphone. So if it was the Kodak DC40 and the Casio QV-11 that were the first digital camera's what grounds does apple have saying Kodak infringed on patents? It seems again, apple just appropriated for their own cause, again.
    Nate_K
    • Since you went there.

      How about doing just a little more research?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_QuickTake
      "The Apple QuickTake (codenamed Venus, Mars, Neptune) was one of the first consumer digital camera lines.[1] It was launched in 1994 by Apple Computer and was marketed for three years before being discontinued in 1997. "
      So if Casio and Kodak were the first digital cameras in 1995, they were beaten by Apple, by a year.
      Jumpin Jack Flash
      • A Little Reading Comprehension

        The Casio camera was the first digital camera to have an LCD to view the pictures, not the first digital camera. That came much earlier. The Apple QuickTake had no LCD.
        CFWhitman
      • And what prey tell.

        CFWhitman is in this image?
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Quicktake_200_back.jpg
        It sure looks like some sort of LCD display screen.
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • How about doing just a little more research?

        You might want to actually read the info at that location - "Other than downloading the photos to a computer, there was no way to preview them on the camera,". i.e. No LCD Viewer no matter what the picture shows.
        RWebster
      • An important line in the article

        [i]other than downloading the photos to a computer,[b] there was no way to preview them on the camera[/b][/i]

        The later models likely had an LCD after Apple saw other cameras with LCD screens, but the first models didn't seem to have it.
        William Farrel
    • What I want to know is...

      Why is this being litigated 18 years after the fact?

      The article does not say when Kodak filed against Apple, but Apple counter sued in 2010, 15 or 16 years after the first digital cameras came out! What, they never heard of Kodak before? It just came to their attention? Sheesh!
      mlashinsky@...
  • Question to the blogger

    Did you think to ask a lawyer why Apple might be doing this? That is, in a legal and perhaps commercial sense, what are the positives and negatives for Apple if they do this, or the positives and negatives if they didn't?
    ego.sum.stig
  • Now regardless of how you feel about "patents" and or Apple

    this decision is worrisome. For it may set a president that if you are in difficult finacail straits you "can" commit a crime and not face the financial difficulty of restitution? So if I'm broke I can break into a home and steal and NOT be expected to compensate my victims cause I'm poor?

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • Wow. you're really reading into this with an Apple slant to it.

      Look at it the other way - What is more worrisome is that should the court go the other direction, in which a company can go after a bankrupt company becasue it knows that the bankrupt company won't have the cash to defend against their bogus patent claims, the bankrupt company could lose what is legally and rightfully theirs.

      Kodak wasn't proven to have infringed on anything, but is has been proven that they are in bankruptcy. It also hasn't been proven that Apple owns anything, but it has been proven they have billions in cash

      Do you really love Apple that much that you feel they should be allowed to pull an unerhanded stunt like this?
      William Farrel
      • Your seem to assume that Apple is wrong here.

        I don't know... Nor would I guess do you. So all things being equal should Kodak get away with wrong doing "IF" Apple is in the right here? NO and if Apple is wrong then they should pay for Kodaks court expenses and a lawyer or law firm should take the case if Kodak is in the right should they not?

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • The flip side of it is

        [b]Kodak wasn't proven to have infringed on anything, but is has been proven that they are in bankruptcy. It also hasn't been proven that Apple owns anything, but it has been proven they have billions in cash[/b]

        Because Apple cannot go forward with their suit it cannot be proven if Kodak has infringed upon Apple's patent.

        IMHO for Apple the easiest way to settle this is to just buy Kodak and be done with it.
        athynz