Judge forbids Apple from pursuing Kodak patent claim

Apple cannot pursue a patent infringement claim through the courts against Kodak while the company is still in bankruptcy, a judge has ruled.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

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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