Apple Sues Kodak in Manhattan District Court, Takes Advantage of Film Giant's Poor Position
February 15, 2012 12:30 PM
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Apple asked a bankruptcy judge if it could file a patent infringement lawsuit against Kodak yesterday
As if repeatedly attacking Samsung, HTC and Motorola Mobility with patent infringement lawsuits wasn't enough, Apple is now looking to kick Kodak while it's down with digital camera, printer and digital picture frame-related infringement suits as well.
Apple's Valentine's Day present to Kodak was a filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York yesterday, where Apple said it is filing
claims against Kodak with the International Trade Commission (ITC) as well as the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Apple asked a bankruptcy judge for permission to sue Kodak first, despite the fact that filing for bankruptcy doesn't protect Kodak from infringement suits.
Apple had claimed before that it created a digital camera in the 1990's along with Kodak, but Kodak supposedly moved ahead with patenting the camera on its own. Apple had filed the case with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, where the ITC rejected Apple's claims. Yesterday, Apple said in the filing that it wanted to move the case to Manhattan.
On January 19, 2012,
Eastman Kodak announced that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
. The 131-year-old film giant filed in the federal bankruptcy court in the Southern District of New York after mentioning in November 2011 that it would be unable to pay its bills at some point in 2012 unless it stumbled upon some quick cash.
Just last week, Kodak announced that it was also
bailing on the digital camera market
as well as photo frames and pocket video recorders.
Kodak sent a patent infringement lawsuit back Apple's way last month, which also targeted Motorola Mobility. However, Apple argued that the ITC shouldn't even bother with the claims because of Kodak's bankruptcy filing and the sale of its patents. Kodak responded, saying that bankruptcy isn't stopping Kodak from expanding its digital imaging technology.
"Apple should not be using the bankruptcy to seek to disrupt Kodak's enforcement of its patents given that infringers like Apple, who continue to violate Kodak's intellectual property rights and refuse to properly compensate it, have contributed to Kodak's current circumstances," said Kodak.
Apple has been on a lawsuit crusade over the past year, mainly targeting Samsung. In April 2011, Apple began attacking Samsung with several patent infringement lawsuits in regards to the South Korean electronics maker's Galaxy S 4G, Epic 4G, Nexus smartphones and the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Apple claimed that these products imitate the iPhone and iPad.
Apple even successfully banned the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia and Germany, but Samsung finally
lifted the ban in Australia
in December 2011. Samsung is still having troubles in Germany, however.
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RE: Not the whole story
2/15/2012 1:17:31 PM
While I mostly agree with you that Kodak wrote a check it can't afford to cash, patents don't, and shouldn't, become worthless just because you haven't used them to sue. For instance, imagine an individual inventor that can't afford to sue Microsoft (a somewhat unlikely example since he can certainly get a lawyer to take the case on contingency) or otherwise doesn't want to bring a lawsuit. He can still shop his patent around to a buyer that will invest in the lawsuit and "cash out" his patent.
The issue you bring up is one of latches. The plaintiff probably won't be able to get the full amount of damages, just likely the past 5-7 years' worth of damages.
“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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