Eastman Kodak has filed lawsuits against Apple and Research In Motion Limited (RIM) alleging that they have infringed Kodak digital imaging technology.
The Kodak complaint, filed with the US International Trade Commission (ITC), specifically claims that Apple’s iPhones and RIM’s camera-enabled BlackBerry devices infringe a Kodak patent that covers technology related to a method for previewing images.
Separately, Kodak filed two suits against Apple in US District Court for the Western District of New York that claim the infringement of patents related to digital cameras and certain computer processes.
‘Kodak has invested hundreds of millions of dollars creating our patent portfolio,’ said Laura Quatela, chief intellectual property officer and vice-president, Eastman Kodak. ‘In the case of Apple and RIM, we’ve had discussions for years with both companies in an attempt to resolve this issue amicably, and we have not been able to reach a satisfactory agreement. In light of that, we are taking this action to ensure that we protect the interests of our shareholders and the existing licensees of our technology.
‘Our primary interest is not to disrupt the availability of any product but to obtain fair compensation for the use of our technology,’ added Quatela. ‘There’s a basic issue of fairness that needs to be addressed. Those devices use Kodak technology and we are merely seeking compensation for the use of our technology in their products.’
Kodak has licensed digital imaging technology to approximately 30 companies, including such mobile-device companies as LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.
On 17 December, in an action involving Samsung and Kodak, an ITC Administrative Law Judge issued a ruling declaring that the Kodak patent covering colour image preview was valid and enforceable, and that Samsung’s camera-enabled mobile devices infringed upon that Kodak patent.
In the complaint against Apple and RIM, Kodak is seeking from the ITC a limited exclusion order preventing the import of infringing devices, including certain mobile telephones and wireless communication devices featuring digital cameras.
In the first suit against Apple in US District Court, Kodak alleges infringement of two patents generally covering image preview and the processing of images of different resolutions.
In the second suit, Kodak alleges 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.
In both District Court actions against Apple, Kodak is seeking to permanently enjoin Apple from further infringement as well as unspecified damages.