Kodak sues, tells Apple: "Get off our patents"

Kodak sues, tells Apple: "Get off our patents"

Summary: Kodak is suing Apple over claims that some of the patents in a portfolio that Kodak needs to sell off to survive bankruptcy in fact belong to Apple.

TOPICS: Apple, Legal

Kodak has accused Apple of attempting to derail plans to sell off a patent portfolio the company needs to shed for it to survive.

The former photo giant --- which in January filed for bankruptcy protection --- is suing the maker of shiny rectangles in a bid to hold onto what it claims is its patents.

Apple, and spun-off company FlashPoint Technology, which was also named in the suit, claims ownership of the patents through a project the two companies worked on during the early 1990s, according to Reuters.

The patents relate to camera viewfinders on LCD screens, the filing said.

But Kodak says these patents are part of its patent portfolio, which has more than 700 patents for use in digital cameras and smartphones. Kodak says the patents have generated more than $3 billion in licensing revenues since 2001.

It comes only a week after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper dismissed Kodak's request to rule that Apple had "no interest" in the sale, but instead advised the company to file a suit, Bloomberg reports.

As one might expect, Kodak hit back and claimed Apple was the largest infringer of patents in that portfolio, while hinting it could therefore be a buyer of some of those patents.

It claimed Apple was splashing cash around to delay the sale, which the company needs to sell as part of its bankruptcy restructuring.

"Apple and FlashPoint are seeking to benefit from Kodak's difficult financial position," the company said --- (Difficult? The company's bankrupt. How much more difficult could it get?) --- "which will be exacerbated if the debtors cannot obtain fair value for the patents."

Apple responded, saying the U.S. District Court in Manhattan should hear the dispute rather than the bankruptcy court, and blasted Kodak for using its need for urgency in a time of financial troubles to  "ramrod through a procedurally flawed and substantively meritless motion."

Image credit: CNET.


Topics: Apple, Legal

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • kodak won't survive

    how could kodak allow apple to acquire full control of the patents?

    kodak clearly has problems and will not survive, because it is lacking "intelligent management"
  • For now, Kodak's actions in courts proven to be failure

    Will they work out this time?
    • you seem almost happy that

      Apple is screwing with Kodak, even with Apple in the wrong.
      William Farrel
      • Apple claims joint ownership on some of the patents

        because of previous partnerships with Kodak. Kodak has not denied this, but instead has maintained that the patents being part of a portfolio trumps Apple's claim. Unilaterally declaring Apple to be in the wrong says more about your honesty than it does Apple's.
      • How?

        How is Apple wrong in this? If they co-own the patents as suggested then Kodak has no right to claim to be the sole owner and no right to include those patents in their portfolio.
      • @baggins_Z

        A partnership on a project does not in and of itself grant joint ownership of the patents used in the project. Unless specifically stated otherwise in the partnership contract, ownership of the patents remains with Kodak. The much more likely contract wording would have Apple being granted usage of the patents with usage restricted to the joint project.
      • They are part of Kodak's portfolio

        And not Apple's patent portfolio,

        If Kodak is claiming that they have the right to sell them, Then I am sure part of that agreement is that Apple gets some money, and assured licensing going forward.

        If they where jointly owned 50-50, wouldn't they be in a thrid partnership portfolio?

        Or at the very least, wouldn't Apple need to buy out Kodak's half of the patent? I doubt anyone would agree to share a patent with the chance that "well, I'm going out of business so I'll give you, Apple, that whole patent for free, even if selling it would save us!"

        And given Apple's overly litigious nature of late, I am getting the feeling that Apple wants that latter, as how do you have to share a patent with an entity that no longer exists?

        You don't.
        William Farrel
  • I'm sure it belongs to Apple...

    What doesn't, these days? Certainly not a rectangle...

    Patent squabbling... where's the reform to allow competition? Oh, wait, that happened late last year... most who read it weren't enthusiastic as the fine print said it all...
    • You know he's a fanboy when...

      He equates the biggest tech development since the iPhone as just a 'rectangle.' MSFT finally got around to copying it anyway--it's about time they got around to it, but hey, at least it didn't take 10+ years this time.
      • It's no the biggest development...

        ...it's the biggest insanity. It's the ludicrous that Apple was actually able to get a patent for a rectangle because really, that's what they got.
  • Used to be a big fan of Kodak back in the day

    I can still probably run ektachrome (E6) in my sleep, practically. I grew up printing on their papers. I remember when Agfa and Ilford and Fuji really started taking Kodak's bacon way before digital made all the old methods obsolete. I would not use the other papers and films for a long time, but slowly started losing out to other photographers.

    But the reality is, Kodak stopped innovating a LONG time ago. Way before digital. At this point, they are nothing but patent trolls.
  • Pretty sure it belongs to Apple. I worked at Kodak.

    During the early 1990's we worked closely with Apple on bundles, like the Photo CD bundle. We also hired John Sculley to consult with us @ Kodak, too. So there's no arguing we (Kodak) worked rather closely with Apple from 1992 - 1996 on a variety of projects including the QuickTake camera.

    I told Kodak in 1995 when I left, they'd be bankrupt in 20 years because we were too arrogant in thinking we have to put Kodak's name on everything. A stupid idea when you think for 100 years, we'd been telling the World we do Film. We're the big yellow box.

    We knew so much about digital, but we sucked at branding ourselves.

    We tried and failed with Digix a brand we created. Today Qualex is dead. Kodalux is dead and so is film. And thus, now the undertaker sets its eyes on Kodak. Tsk Tsk. It didn't have to be that way.
    • Working with a partner on bundled software isn't...

      ...the same as owning or sharing ownership of the patents. I worked for a large software company on very similar things (bundling apps for devices, etc.) and the only thing the partners owned was the code/codecs and drivers that they supplied. Everything else belonged to my employer or others that my employer and the partners joint licensed from.
      • agreed, Apple allowing their people to work for Kodak on a project does

        NOT give Apple any indigenous rights to any patent resulting from said work.
        this is just a ploy to force Kodak or the portfolio's buyers to pay off Apple for their contribution, again.
        the offhand dismissal by Kodak is just an expression of the absurdity of the claim.
        Apple must provide proof of a contractual obligation of sharing the patents if they hope to have a prayer of prevailing in this case.
        since Kodak knows they don't have such proof, they called for an immediate judgement.

        GO Kodak!!!