Apple Asks Bankruptcy Judge For Permission to Sue Kodak

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Eastman Kodak Co. may be in the midst of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding, but that hasn’t stopped Apple from asking a bankruptcy judge for permission to file a patent infringement claim against the photography pioneer. Apple says the patents are involved in Kodak’s digital cameras, digital picture frames, and printers.

According to Bloomberg, Apple says that during the early 1990s, it was involved in the development of a digital camera with Kodak, and that Kodak patented the resulting technology. Kodak has denied that and is currently suing Apple and Research in Motion over its image preview patent. That case, filed in January 2010, is still pending.

Last month, Kodak filed another patent infringement complaint against Apple and HTC, one that Apple said the US International Trade Commission shouldn’t investigate because of the bankruptcy filing. Kodak shot back and said that the bankruptcy case shouldn’t affect its efforts to protect its patents, which it has been trying to license as a way to shore up its revenue and rightsize its financial situation.

Kodak’s Chapter 11 filing showed assets of US$5.1 billion and debt of $6.8 billion.

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10 Comments Leave Your Own

geoduck

as a way to shore up its revenue and rightsize its financial situation.

Dilbert Jargon Alert!
Call the PHB.
LOL

MOSiX Man

I know business is business, but this smells a bit like ‘kick ‘em when they’re down’. If the company is already in chapter 11, and doesn’t seem like they’re going to pull out of their current descent, why not just let them die gracefully?

John Molloy

If the company is already in chapter 11, and doesn?t seem like they?re going to pull out of their current descent, why not just let them die gracefully?

Because I think that Kodak had successfully sued Apple recently and Apple may want to protect themselves from patent trolls coming in and buying Kodak.

kevinolive

Apparently you missed the part about Kodak suing Apple, MOSiX Man.  Not that I agree with all of the patent lawsuits being tossed about these days, but it seems fair for apple to sue Kodak if they’re suing apple.

MOSiX Man

Because I think that Kodak had successfully sued Apple recently and Apple may want to protect themselves from patent trolls coming in and buying Kodak.

Ah. Good point. The level of real threat from patent trolling, particularly in the tech sector, is utterly ridiculous. On top of that, there are all of the semi-legit lawsuits being tossed around like it’s a big water balloon fight. It’s really nuts.

MOSiX Man

Apparently you missed the part about Kodak suing Apple, MOSiX Man.

Nope. I didn’t miss it. My point was simply that Kodak seems to be a company bound to implode in the not so distant future, so Apple suing them seems kind of pointless. Even if Kodak did sue Apple, that does not necessarily mandate that Apple has to file a separate suit against Kodak, in return.

As ... pointed out, though, there are legal ramifications to not suing someone for impinging on your intellectual property, even if that someone is a fading shadow of the company they used to be. That IS a valid reason for Apple to sue Kodak.

furbies

Apple did release the QuickTake 100 back in Jan 1994, so presumably they were working on it for a while before that….

And back in the day, Apple would have needed help on such a new technology.

Terrin

This is about two things. First, Apple doesn’t want Kodak to be able to sell certain patents that 1) Apple thinks Apple really owns due to its previous partnership with Kodak. If Apple doesn’t assert its rights, these patents will likely be sold to somebody else who will use the patents to sue Apple. So, Apple essentially wants to sue Kodak to establish rights to the patent that Kodak is yielding against Apple (and others).

Second, Apple wants to put pressure on Kodak to settle Kodak’s suit against Apple by decreasing the value of Kodak to undermine Kodak’s financing.

I see nothing wrong with Apple’s kicking Kodak while it is down especially if Apple really owns some of the patents Kodak is claiming as its own. Further, let us face it. Kodak will not make a come back. Its assets will go to patent trolls. If Apple can squeeze a deal out of Kodak where none of Kodak’s patents will be used against Apple in the future, that would be very good for Apple (and the industry).

Apple essentially wants a judgement against Kodak that says Kodak misappropriated Apple’s patent(s) and used it to earn licensing money that Kodak wasn’t entitled to earn. Kodak doesn’t have the money to pay Apple. To pay Apple back, Kodak likely would have to agree that Apple will have a license to use Kodak’s portfolio.

geoduck

Another idea along the lines of what Terrin said above.

Apple is trying to assert their rights to the parents and to drive down Kodak’s value. However what if Apple itself has plans to buy Kodak for its patent portfolio? They’d get a better price and even the patents that aren’t in dispute between the two of them are quite valuable.

MOSiX Man

Quite possibly true. Kodak’s market value is currently $99,900,000. Apple has spent several times that too buy patents and/or technology.

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