Kodak Files Lawsuits Against Apple, RIM Over Digital Imaging Technology Patent

Eastman Kodak Company (in short, Kodak) has filed lawsuits against Apple and Research In Motion, alleging that both have infringed digital imaging technology patented by the company.

The complaint, filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission, claims that Apple’s iPhone devices and all RIM’s camera-enabled BlackBerry phones infringe a patent that covers technology related to a method for previewing images.

Separately, Kodak filed two suits today against Apple that claim the infringement of patents related to digital cameras and certain computer processes.

In a statement, Kodak says it remains open to negotiating an agreement with both Apple and RIM, which it claims to have tried reaching for years.

Kodak says it has licensed digital imaging technology to some 30 companies, including major players like Nokia, Samsung, LG and Motorola, and that all those companies currently pay royalties to Kodak over use of its patented technology.

Said Laura G. Quatela, Chief Intellectual Property Officer, and Vice President, Eastman Kodak Company:

“Kodak has a long history of digital imaging innovation and we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars creating our industry-leading patent portfolio. 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. 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.”

On Dec. 17, in an action involving Samsung and Kodak, an ITC Administrative Law Judge issued a ruling declaring that the Kodak patent covering color image preview (No. 6,292,218) was valid and enforceable, and that Samsung’s camera-enabled mobile devices infringed upon that Kodak patent. Samsung and Kodak have since settled.

Kodak is now seeking from the ITC a limited exclusion order preventing the importation of infringing devices marketed by Apple and RIM.

In both U.S. District Court actions against Apple, Kodak is seeking to permanently enjoin Apple from further infringement as well as unspecified damages.

In the first suit against the Cupertino tech giant in 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 patent at issue in that suit, Kodak notes, was also the subject of litigation with Sun Microsystems, in which a federal jury in 2004 found Sun’s Java software infringed; that case was settled by Sun paying Kodak for a license for the patents.