Kodak loses patent ruling against Apple, RIM

U.S. judge rules phonemakers did not violate Kodak rights because patent in contention was invalid, but film company will appeal findings in final determination, report says.

Eastman Kodak has lost a two-year patent battle with Apple and Research In Motion (RIM) over the use of its digital image preview technology, which might negatively impact the value of intellectual property (IP) assets the film company is selling.

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) judge Thomas Pender ruled in favor of the two phonemakers because the patent being disputed was invalid. He added that the aspect of the patent covered an obvious variation of earlier inventions and, were it valid, BlackBerry devices and iPhone 3G would infringe it while iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 would not.

Kodak said it will appeal the findings with the full six-member ITC commission in Washington, United States, which has the power to block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents, it added. The final determination of the case is expected by Sep. 21, 2012.

"We are pleased the judge has concluded that Kodak's patent is infringed by Apple and RIM. We expect to appeal to the full Commission his recommendation on validity. The judge's recommendation represents a preliminary step in a process that we are confident will conclude in Kodak's favor," said Timothy Lynch, Kodak's vice president and chief intellectual property officer, in the company's statement.

He added that its confidence stems from the fact that the same patent found to be invalid by Pender was found valid by a different judge in an earlier lawsuit involving Samsung, whose products are similar to those offered by Apple and RIM.

The former film giant contended in its bankruptcy filing in January that Apple already owes it more than US$1 billion in damages for infringement of this and other digital capture patents. It also said a victory in this case may force RIM and Apple to pay for licensing and bolster the value of patent portfolios the company is looking to sell, Bloomberg stated.

The company also underwent a reorganization in January to bolster liquidity in the U.S. and abroad, as well as to monetize non-strategic IP and enable the company to focus on its most valuable business lines.