Eastman Kodak Co. asked a bankruptcy judge to block Apple from re-opening patent litigation between the two firms. Apple and Kodak are fighting over who owns a particular imaging patent—the problem being that Kodak is including that same patent in a US$2.6 billion patent sale.
The two firms were already in the process of litigating ownership of the patent when that case was halted by Kodak’s bankruptcy proceedings. Apple is asking the bankruptcy judge to allow the case to resume in federal court, while Kodak wants to keep the decision in the hands of the bankruptcy court.
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.
Kodak’s argument to the court is that deciding what is and isn’t part of an estate is properly the purview of the bankruptcy court, rather than the federal court Apple is wanting to decide the case.
“Apple’s preferred course of action—to ask another court to decide the critical issue of what constitutes property of the estate and how that property is to be used to maximize value for creditors—should be rejected,” Kodak wrote in its court filings, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The company accused Apple of shedding “crocodile tears” by claiming that the federal judge originally overseeing the case was more familiar with the facts. “[Apple] is seeking what it sees as a tactical advantage in having its ownership claims resolved outside this court,” Kodak said.
Additional reporting by Brad Cook.