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Kodak says Apple violated patents it holds on image previews and other imaging technology. It want over $1B USD from Apple and Canadian phone-maker RIM.  (Source: All Things Digital)
Company already scored settlements with LG and Samsung worth almost $1B USD

Several patents acquired by Eastman Kodak Company could turn out to be worth over $2B USD.  In December, South Korea's LG Electronics negotiated a settlement with Kodak in a case over alleged infringement of the intellectual property.  And early this March, Samsung offered up a settlement of its own after an unfavorable early ruling in U.S. federal court.  Insiders estimate the pair of settlements to be worth close to $1B USD for Kodak.

Now Kodak is embroiled in a second round of lawsuits with Apple, Inc., makers of the camera-equipped iPhone, and Research in Motion, Ltd., who includes cameras in several of its smartphones.  

Kodak CEO Antonio Perez in a recent interview Bloomberg says his company "deserves to win" and hopes to get over $1B USD in damages or settlements from the top smart phone makers.

The patents in question cover image capture, compression and data storage and a method for previewing motion images.  

The case was dealt a setback when a judge at the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that Apple and RIM did not infringe upon the patent.  Today the ITC will rule whether that decision was sound -- an appeal of sorts.

Even if Kodak wins, that doesn't mean that it will get settlement or damages, as the ITC does not have the power to rule monetary compensation.  But it does bolster the company's chances in its pending lawsuits, where a loss greatly weakens them.  As the ITC can block imports and exports, Kodak could also work that angle to its advantage.

Mr. Perez remains optimistic, stating, "This is a lot of money, big money."

Kodak sure needs money.  The company, who was a king in the film camera era, has fallen on hard times with the advance of digital imaging and the death of film cameras.  The company still earns a lot of money from instant cameras, but by the end of 2010 it has lost over half its market value since 2005 and seen revenue fall to $7.2B USD in 2010, also about half of the 2005 value.

Between 1993 and 2007 the company went on a patent binge, spending on patents and acquiring small startups.  Between 2004 and 2007 it spent approximately $3.4B USD to beef up its digital imaging IP.

Armed with that IP, the company has strong-armed 30 different electronics makers into lucrative licensing agreements.



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RE: Oh, just one more thing
By adiposity on 3/25/2011 5:29:59 PM , Rating: 2
I think what bugs people is these companies (like Kodak) that did all their inventing 20 years ago. Then along comes real inventors who figure out how to make digital cameras (in this case), and Kodak decides to buy them since they have a lot of cash and cameras are a big part of their business. Fast-forward and their money turns into patent muscle, and anyone who used anything remotely similar to the ideas they bought and patented, gets screwed.

Of course, Kodak has as much right to these patents as the small companies they purchased, but it just bothers people that a huge company has so many patents that no one is safe from a suit from them.

When they were buying all those patents and companies there were probably 10 other companies with similar implementations and technology, but due to patent overlap and general patent ignorance, they can sue any of them (and vice versa).

Now we find that half the tech devices in the world have digital cameras, and suddenly Kodak wants a slice.


RE: Oh, just one more thing
By Solandri on 3/25/2011 6:22:55 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't feel quite so bad about it. Kodak made the first digital camera in 1975, and sold the first professional DSLR in 1991 (a 1.3 MP camera primitive by today's standards but a decade ahead of its time back then, even if it cost $25,000). They almost single-handedly pushed forward digital imaging technology for a quarter century. The cameras on your phone, laptop, and tablet certainly would not be as advanced as they are now if it wasn't for them.

The royalties they get from patents they bought are a relatively small amount of their total royalties. They're just becoming a larger fraction since their patents from their heyday (they ones they R&Ded themselves) are slowly expiring. They're burning up karma today, but from 1970-2000 they built up a lot of excess positive karma to burn.


RE: Oh, just one more thing
By adiposity on 3/25/2011 7:22:53 PM , Rating: 2
Nasa had digital image technology in the 60's...


RE: Oh, just one more thing
By Solandri on 3/26/2011 7:49:44 AM , Rating: 3
And their technology is fine if you want a $1 million camera. Kodak was working towards making digital imaging mass-marketable.


"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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