Judge Rejects Apple’s Efforts to Renew Kodak Litigation

Apple vs. KodakA bankruptcy court rejected an effort by Apple to renew patent litigation against troubled Kodak. Judge Allan L. Gropper of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan issued a ruling on a motion from Apple to remove an automatic stay on its patent litigation that denied Apple’s request and kept the matter in his court.

The case involves a patent issued to Kodak in the 1990s covering the way a digital camera displays a preview of an image on an LCD display. Kodak was granted a patent for the invention, but Apple has sued the company claiming it misappropriated Apple technology from a joint project the two companies had worked on together.

Kodak has rejected those claims as “baseless,” as noted by The Wall Street Journal, and the two firms were duking it out in court when Kodak declared bankruptcy. As is standard with Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, Kodak was automatically granted a variety of “automatic stays” protecting the firm from litigation while it works out its reorganization.

Apple had filed a motion asking the bankruptcy court to lift that stay and allow the company to proceed with its patent litigation in federal court. The issue at the center of that motion is that the disputed patent is part of a large portfolio that must be auctioned off by Kodak as part of agreement to secure a loan. Once Kodak declared bankruptcy, that agreement was triggered. Apple doesn’t want the patent to change hands while it is litigating ownership.

“The first 45 days are difficult in any bankruptcy case; the debtor has dozens of balls in the air, dozens of matters to take care of,” Judge Gropper said to Apple’s attorney during Thursday’s argument. “What’s the need for immediate relief?”

The ruling means that the fate of the disputed patent will remain in the bankruptcy court, at least for the time being.