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Kodak lawsuit accuses Apple of infringing digital imaging patents

post #1 of 71
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The Eastman Kodak Company announced Thursday that it filed a lawsuit against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission, alleging that the iPhone infringes a Kodak patent related to previewing images.

In all, two lawsuits were filed against Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. The first suit against Apple covers the previewing of images, and processing them at different resolutions. The second lawsuit alleges that Apple has infringed on patents that allow a computer to "ask for help" from another application to carry out certain functions.

Also a subject of legal action from Kodak is Research in Motion and its BlackBerry devices.

"Kodak has a long history of digital imaging innovation and we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars creating our industry-leading patent portfolio," said Laura G. Quatela, chief intellectual property officer and vice president with Kodak. "In the case of Apple and RIM, weve 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."

Kodak, in a press release, noted that it has licensed digital imaging technology to about 30 companies. They include handset makers like LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. All of those companies pay royalties to Kodak.

"Our primary interest is not to disrupt the availability of any product but to obtain fair compensation for the use of our technology," Quatela said. "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, Kodak won a similar suit against Samsung. An ITC judge ruled that patent No. 6,292,218 related to color image preview was valid and enforceable. The ITC determined that camera-equipped phones from Samsung violated the patent. Kodak hopes to have the same success against Apple and RIM.

The same patents in question regarding Apple were at the center of a lawsuit between Kodak and Sun Microsystems in 2004. A federal jury determined that Sun's Java programming had infringed on the patents in question, and Kodak settled the suit in return for a licensing agreement.

In its new suit against Apple, Kodak has asked the ITC to permanently enjoin Apple from further infringement. The company also seeks damages for the alleged infringement.

"We remain open to negotiating a fair and amicable agreement with both Apple and RIM, which has always been our preference and our practice with other licensees," Quatela said. "We seek to avoid litigation in our licensing programs whenever possible. But when the infringement is persistent, we will act to defend the interests of our shareholders and licensees, and to promote the fair compensation that is the bedrock of innovation."

Kodak's suit is another high-profile legal battle for Apple. The iPhone maker is currently engaged in three separate suits with rival handset maker Nokia over various patents. Nokia has also filed a suit with the ITC against Apple, and Apple has also countersued Nokia.

Last October, Apple was hit with a suit from an imaging patent holder that won previous complaints against Sony and Canon. St. Clair Intellectual Property Consultants has alleged that Apple is in violation of four digital imaging related patents it owns. Coincidentally, Kodak and RIM have also been sued by St. Clair.
post #2 of 71
Bad, bad, Apple...


That's a really bad sign when the big fish in a shrinking economic lake start to go after one another to survive.
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post #3 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

Bad, bad, Apple...


That's a really bad sign when the big fish in a shrinking economic lake start to go after one another to survive.

Start? When have these companies not been suing one another?

Also, this particular lake--digital photography and videography--is not exactly shrinking.
post #4 of 71
This is ironic considering Apple designed and Kodak built one of the first consumer digital cameras back in 1994, the Apple QuickTake 100.
post #5 of 71
"Kodak has a long history of digital imaging innovation and we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars creating our industry-leading patent portfolio,"

ha yeah ok - I thought Kodak were caught cold by the change from film to digital. The whole thing sounds stupid - a patent on asking one application to help with a certain process is patented ???
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post #6 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Last October, Apple was hit with a suit from an imaging patent holder that won previous complaints against Sony and Cannon.

Canon only has one N
post #7 of 71
What else is new?

Next.
post #8 of 71
Another day, another lawsuit.

Patents are getting out of control.

Must be getting REALLY hard to produce any product without the possibility of stepping on another companies precious toes. You can really violate a patent and honestly have no idea that you did.

Anyways.........
post #9 of 71
I really don't understand how people and companies can hold patents on ideas that they can't make it work, to me if you can't make it work you haven't invented nothing and I think it should be that way.
post #10 of 71
are all companies ganging up on apple?
post #11 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lochias View Post

Start? When have these companies not been suing one another?

It just seems it's accelerating to me.


Quote:
Also, this particular lake--digital photography and videography--is not exactly shrinking.


Yes it is, if you consider the poor economy and the fact that Apple and RIM is placing higher and higher quality cameras in their phones, mainly used for consumers, a market Kodak has been trying to penetrate ever since the demise of mechanical film.

Kodak is dying and they are depending upon their royalties, which they probably ask way to much for, thus Apple and RIM simply ignoring them or think they are too weak to fight a protracted battle in the courts.

After all, how long did that Polaroid/Kodak suit drag on? 10, 15 years? Kodak is paying on that I'm sure.
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post #12 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by doyourownthing View Post

are all companies ganging up on apple?

I have also noticed this, every single technology company is suing apple recently, I guess when you become the market leader and innovator, envy just breeds this kind of response. Humans are really despicable.
post #13 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by zindako View Post

I have also noticed this, every single technology company is suing apple recently, I guess when you become the market leader and innovator, envy just breeds this kind of response. Humans are really despicable.

i know right? and if it wasn't for apple's contributions, many people would not be able to enjoy many wonderful products

humans are the worst...
post #14 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

I really don't understand how people and companies can hold patents on ideas that they can't make it work, to me if you can't make it work you haven't invented nothing and I think it should be that way.


Well at one time it did work or it took so much to come up with the idea that it was patented.

Research and Development costs money and it's just too easy for a competitor to simply copy it, thus patents and royalties were invented.

If it wasn't for patents, nothing would get invented because companies would steal each others ideas before the original company had a chance to recoup their investment.

Now Apple and RIM have stepped on Kodak's patents, according to Kodak, and all three couldn't agree on a royalty. Perhaps Kodak wanted way too much as to shut camera's off cell phones to protect their more profitable camera business. So now they are coming to blows and fighting it out in court.
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post #15 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

Bad, bad, Apple...

you presume that Apple has actually done anything wrong in any of these cases. it is possible that they used totally different technology to achieve their goal and in fact haven't touched anything from Kodak. Or that the patents are merely the idea with no tech (the latter sounds like this is the case), in which case Apple can argue that there's nothing to enforce etc

As for the latter comment, folks have been suing each other for years, it's just that it wasn't getting press before. Now it is a big business to report on everything Apple related especially if it makes the company look potentially bad.

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post #16 of 71
Meanwhile, Apple's lawyers burning the midnight oil trying to find a way to show Kodak infringing on one of its patents for a countersuit.
post #17 of 71
Oh yes, Kodak is once again way out in front in digital imaging. Such a pioneer and innovator! As Lee Iacocca once said so famously, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." Kodak's lawyers say: "We'll sue our way to the trash heap of history."
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post #18 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by zindako View Post

I have also noticed this, every single technology company is suing apple recently, I guess when you become the market leader and innovator, envy just breeds this kind of response. Humans are really despicable.

The cell phone is becoming a all-in-one device, thus it's threatening the market share of other companies.

If the cell phone adopts the ability to print and scan, HP and other printer companies will look at their patents and decide to come after RIM and Apple too.

The very fact that companies have to adopt the features of other companies in to their products goes to show the lake is shrinking.
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post #19 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

Well at one time it did work or it took so much to come up with the idea that it was patented.

Research and Development costs money and it's just too easy for a competitor to simply copy it, thus patents and royalties were invented.

one would think this is the case but it is not. there was a time, not that long ago, that you could have an idea, have done no research and development on it at all but could get a patent. and then just use that patent to collect money from others. some of whom had done their research and found no patent at the time because it was still in process. and then when you see that they are making money some 5-10 years later, you could use your patent to sue them. this is a major flaw of the system. they need a way in which to limit how long after an obvious violation you have to sue or give up at least 'statutory' damages (actual damages having to be collected at the same rates all non violators paid). Because that kind of ignore until profit trick is what is happening with a lot of these Apple cases to the point of absurdity. If I don't defend a trademark for 10 years I lose the right to sue anyone cause clearly I didn't care. But I can defend a patent even if I never used it. that's wack

Quote:
Originally Posted by eehd View Post

Meanwhile, Apple's lawyers burning the midnight oil trying to find a way to show Kodak infringing on one of its patents for a countersuit.

actually they don't necessarily have to. they just need to show that they built on their own prior art, or that the patent is essentially an idea and not actual tech and/or that Kodak never didn't anything with idea. Or dig up an old agreement that they could use the tech without paying. or that they did pay and this is an attempt to get more money from them. lots of different ways to go.

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post #20 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

Well at one time it did work or it took so much to come up with the idea that it was patented.

Research and Development costs money and it's just too easy for a competitor to simply copy it, thus patents and royalties were invented.

If it wasn't for patents, nothing would get invented because companies would steal each others ideas before the original company had a chance to recoup their investment.

Now Apple and RIM have stepped on Kodak's patents, according to Kodak, and all three couldn't agree on a royalty. Perhaps Kodak wanted way too much as to shut camera's off cell phones to protect their more profitable camera business. So now they are coming to blows and fighting it out in court.

I understand why we need to respect patents and other people's R&D, but I honestly think that if another company, not knowingly infringe on a patent shouldn't be punished.

I am sure no one goes and search for all available patents related to their product BEFORE they start their design process, and frankly, unless the company infringing is knowingly copying and taking other's ideas to call their own, then they should be prosecuted.

I say, if a company can prove that they spent time and resources to develop an idea, who so happen to be the same as a patent holder, they should not be held accountable.

Patents do protect inventors, but over the top patent protection hurt innovation even more.
post #21 of 71
This seems like an open and shut case. Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola all licensed the technology without going to court and Kodak won court cases against LG and Samsung.

I wonder why Apple has decided to ignore Kodak's request to license the technology?
post #22 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

one would think this is the case but it is not. there was a time, not that long ago, that you could have an idea, have done no research and development on it at all but could get a patent. and then just use that patent to collect money from others. some of whom had done their research and found no patent at the time because it was still in process. and then when you see that they are making money some 5-10 years later, you could use your patent to sue them. this is a major flaw of the system. they need a way in which to limit how long after an obvious violation you have to sue or give up at least 'statutory' damages (actual damages having to be collected at the same rates all non violators paid). Because that kind of ignore until profit trick is what is happening with a lot of these Apple cases to the point of absurdity. If I don't defend a trademark for 10 years I lose the right to sue anyone cause clearly I didn't care. But I can defend a patent even if I never used it. that's wack

Well said. Patents have become a kind of speculation--analogous to selling derivatives on Wall Street. The making of money by not producing anything concrete profits only those at the top of the pyramid. The rest of us are left impoverished creatively as well as economically. When will both the left and right realize they have a common interest in forcing politicians to stop moving the U.S. economy away from actually making things to just selling abstractions. Sorry, high horse day today.
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post #23 of 71
You can patent a particular implementation of an idea, but not the idea itself. So Apple and RIM may not have infringed on Kodak's patents, but Kodak could think they might. I don't think Apple's lawyers are that stupid to ignore a patent if it's legitimate...
post #24 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by bartfat View Post

You can patent a particular implementation of an idea, but not the idea itself. So Apple and RIM may not have infringed on Kodak's patents, but Kodak could think they might. I don't think Apple's lawyers are that stupid to ignore a patent if it's legitimate...

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The Eastman Kodak Company announced Thursday that it filed a lawsuit against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission, alleging that the iPhone infringes a Kodak patent related to previewing images.

I find it hard to believe that basically everyone uses the same method of previewing images, and if they do, it probably shouldn't be patentable.
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post #25 of 71
See replies below in bold.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Wong View Post

I understand why we need to respect patents and other people's R&D, but I honestly think that if another company, not knowingly infringe on a patent shouldn't be punished.

You'd be walking a pretty fine line here. It's kinda like the driving law that you can't claim ignorance of the law. If you unknowingly infringe on a patent and it's brought to your attention, you need to either cease and desist or license the technology from the patent owner.

I am sure no one goes and search for all available patents related to their product BEFORE they start their design process, and frankly, unless the company infringing is knowingly copying and taking other's ideas to call their own, then they should be prosecuted.

Maybe in this day and age, they should. Doesn't the patent office research stuff like this before they issue an official patent?

I say, if a company can prove that they spent time and resources to develop an idea, who so happen to be the same as a patent holder, they should not be held accountable.

Unfortunately, it's not that simple. I'm sure there are lot's of unethical people/corporations out there that would (try to) manipulate this (would be) rule to infringe on other's patents.

Patents do protect inventors, but over the top patent protection hurt innovation even more.
post #26 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmf2 View Post

I find it hard to believe that basically everyone uses the same method of previewing images, and if they do, it probably shouldn't be patentable.

What's your view on Palm's use of multi-touch?
post #27 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by msantti View Post

Patents are getting out of control.

Getting?!?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by msantti View Post

Must be getting REALLY hard to produce any product without the possibility of stepping on another companies precious toes. You can really violate a patent and honestly have no idea that you did.

I've been saying this for years now...

And this in my opinion is entirely by design... It's no skin off any established mega-corportation to fight and win or loose patent lawsuits... they have the money and lawyers do manage and control it all. However this is slowly but surely causing a higher and higher barrier to entry for startup companies trying to enter these established markets....

Could you imagine if Steve & Steve were working in a little unassuming garage building a fantastic new computer the likes of which have never been seen before in TODAYS patent crazy world?!?!

Not a chance... they'd either be sued into oblivion long before they even figured out what to name the device or be forced into selling (at a low price) to some established player so they were 'protected' by the other sharks just waiting to sue.
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post #28 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by msantti View Post

Must be getting REALLY hard to produce any product without the possibility of stepping on another companies precious toes. You can really violate a patent and honestly have no idea that you did.

This is why Apple will countersue Kodak claiming that Kodak violates some Apple patent in some product. Like I said before regarding Nokia lawsuit, it seems that Apple never objected to pay fees like everyone else but they don't like to license their technology to someone else. Kodak, like Nokia, probably wanted cross licensing agreement in addition to money and Apple refused.
post #29 of 71
i remember working for an agency that was helping to launch their first digital camera.

kodak was so reluctant to enter into the digital market--even when numbers were showing their traditional film market was taking a nose dive. it was all the old farts at the helm. now, their using carl zeiss lenses for all their optics.

does kodak really have all this technology or do they simply have a huge portfolio that they're hoping to cash in on because they didn't have the foresight to knuckle down and take some risks ten years ago?
post #30 of 71
These sorts of lawsuits are often filed as negotiating tactics. It seems everybody but Apple and RIM have agreed to licensing terms with Kodak, so it should come as little surprise that Kodak is now suing Apple and RIM. They will stare each other down for awhile, then settle. It also has to be said that Kodak these days has little going for themselves but their IP legacy.
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post #31 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by doyourownthing View Post

are all companies ganging up on apple?

Or is Apple willfully infringing on other's technology?

I would say it is probably a bit of both.
post #32 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

Like I said before regarding Nokia lawsuit, it seems that Apple never objected to pay fees like everyone else but they don't like to license their technology to someone else. Kodak, like Nokia, probably wanted cross licensing agreement in addition to money and Apple refused.

Do you have any data relating to what Apple was unfairly charged in relation to what other companies were charged?
post #33 of 71
Apple needs to just buy them out. Their market value is $1.3 billion. It would be cheaper to just acquire them and their vast patent treasure chest.
post #34 of 71
So Kodak patented showing thumbnails for images? Are you KIDDING ME? Or maybe they just patented one of fifty different ways to do it, one which varies only slightly and in no meaningful way.

I realize why we have patents and why they're necessary, but serious reform or abolishment NEEDS to occur. It's become completely absurd. If you asshats can't use it properly, then you don't get it.
post #35 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTel View Post

Apple needs to just buy them out. Their market value is $1.3 billion. It would be cheaper to just acquire them and their vast patent treasure chest.

$90mil vs. $1.3bil and a lot of deadweight. Tough call.
post #36 of 71
Have to make money somehow.

http://members.whattheythink.com/new...x.cfm?id=40740

Kodak's revenue drops 26%, loss of $81M on quarter
Friday, October 30, 2009

For the third quarter of 2009:

* Sales worldwide totaled $1.781 billion, a decrease of 26% from $2.405 billion in the third quarter of 2008, including 2% of unfavorable foreign exchange impact. Revenue from digital businesses totaled $1.209 billion, a 26% decline from $1.641 billion in the prior-year quarter, primarily as a result of the global recession and continued restrictions in the credit markets that are dampening commercial printing purchases. Revenue from the companys traditional business decreased 25% to $572 million, in line with the industry decline.
* The companys third-quarter loss from continuing operations, before interest expense, other income (charges), net, and income taxes was $81 million, compared with earnings on the same basis of $147 million in the year-ago quarter.
post #37 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTel View Post

Apple needs to just buy them out. Their market value is $1.3 billion. It would be cheaper to just acquire them and their vast patent treasure chest.

And a lot of dead weight too, as has already been pointed out. Apple would also be put in the position of licensing patents to their competitors, which is not necessarily a great place to be. Kodak is just a shell of its former self. If they were worth acquiring, somebody would have taken a run at it already I expect.
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post #38 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

And a lot of dead weight too, as has already been pointed out. Apple would also be put in the position of licensing patents to their competitors, which is not necessarily a great place to be. Kodak is just a shell of its former self. If they were worth acquiring, somebody would have taken a run at it already I expect.

Great comment, I agree. We were at Disney and the imagination ride is sponsored by Kodak. The mood was not optimistic, they have been cutting back for years ever since digital technology took their film business.
post #39 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

What's your view on Palm's use of multi-touch?

Or Androids lack of?

I honestly don't know enough about it. I don't think the concept of multitouch itself should be patentable, nor should intuitive gestures like pinch to zoom. Methods of detecting multiple inputs? Perhaps.
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post #40 of 71
Kodak does have a fair bit of digital photography IP; they realized the need to migrate from film 8-10 years ago. This was their strategy, and is a strategy that Apple also endorses.

Unfortunately, the system is so messed up that too many trivial patents have been awarded, and for some obscure reason continue to be upheld. Aside from being a stockholder, a big part of me hopes that the big companies just sue each other to the brink of death, where MAYBE they will change their tune on patent reform.
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