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Kodak sells online business to Shutterfly, patent sale held up by Apple dispute

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
As bankrupt Kodak looks to sell off its assets and streamline the company, it has sold its online photo business to Shutterfly for $23.8 million, while the sale of about 1,100 digital patents remains on hold because of a patent dispute with Apple.

The Kodak Gallery service, which allows user to store and share their pictures online and create custom printouts, has more than 75 million users, Reuters. But the $23.8 million transaction is a minor deal compared to the $2 billion Kodak's patent sale could fetch.

That sale is scheduled to begin by June 30, but the matter has been complicated because of an ongoing dispute with Apple over one of its patents. Last month, Apple asked for approval to sue Kodak from U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York.

Next week on March 8, a bankruptcy judge will hear Apple's motion to move forward. The iPhone maker has asked the court to lift an automatic stay that was placed on pending litigation after the company filed for Chapter 11 in January.

Apple has contended that it is the rightful owner of one of the patents Kodak is looking to sell. The dispute stems from a partnership between Apple and Kodak in the early 1990s, in which Apple says it disclosed "confidential digital camera technology to Kodak subject to various non-disclosure agreements." The terms of the agreement stated that "any improvements Kodak made to Apple's disclosures remain the property of Apple."




Apple released the $749 QuickTake 100 camera, which has been called the first consumer digital camera. The company also released the QuickTake 200 in 1997 before exiting the digital camera market following the return of co-founder Steve Jobs to the company.

In filings with the court, Apple has asserted that it "became aware in 2010 that Kodak had misappropriated Apple's technology and sought patents of its own claiming this technology. That year Apple "launched an extensive internal investigation into Apple's prior relationship with Kodak relating to the development of digital camera technology."

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 12
Guess Kodak hoped no one remembered.....
post #3 of 12
It sounds like Kodak really screwed the pooch on this one. Apple probably helped them enter the digital camera market and now they are trying to sue them for patent infringement on IP they helped them with. Geez.
post #4 of 12
As a long-time user of Kodak films before my first digital camera in 2002 (which effectively killed my film use), I am really sad to see that company in such dire straits.

This law suit is akin to a drowning victim grabbing at any swimmer that happens by.
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Applecation View Post

As a long-time user of Kodak films before my first digital camera in 2002 (which effectively killed my film use), I am really sad to see that company in such dire straits.

This law suit is akin to a drowning victim grabbing at any swimmer that happens by.

... but the swimmer they are grabbing is actually an ocean liner and Kodak just grabbed the propeller.
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post #6 of 12
When Apple is accused of violating IP or asserting IP, the anti-Apple crowd likes to act like Apple is some new company on the scene who is going up against companies that have been doing this a lot longer than them. When it comes to computer technology, Apple is one of the original pioneers, and it's pretty safe to conclude that they've been working on technologies, even those not related to their core business, for a long time.

Ironically, it's Google who's the young pup, which makes you wonder how they've become so dominant in areas outside their core search business without violating IP.
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post

When Apple is accused of violating IP or asserting IP, the anti-Apple crowd likes to act like Apple is some new company on the scene who is going up against companies that have been doing this a lot longer than them. When it comes to computer technology, Apple is one of the original pioneers, and it's pretty safe to conclude that they've been working on technologies, even those not related to their core business, for a long time.

Ironically, it's Google who's the young pup, which makes you wonder how they've become so dominant in areas outside their core search business without violating IP.

Not everybody is so sure Google hasn't violated IP. Time, and the courts, will tell.
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post


Ironically, it's Google who's the young pup, which makes you wonder how they've become so dominant in areas outside their core search business without violating IP.

That's because they haven't.

(as you already know of-course )
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post

When Apple is accused of violating IP or asserting IP, the anti-Apple crowd likes to act like Apple is some new company on the scene who is going up against companies that have been doing this a lot longer than them. When it comes to computer technology, Apple is one of the original pioneers, and it's pretty safe to conclude that they've been working on technologies, even those not related to their core business, for a long time.

Ironically, it's Google who's the young pup, which makes you wonder how they've become so dominant in areas outside their core search business without violating IP.

ask Oracle
post #10 of 12
Let's not be so fast to blame Kodak and assume Apple is correct on this one. Apple's Quick Take 100 was released in January of 1994, according to Mactracker.

Although not for the consumer market (because they were so expensive), Kodak previously had a joint venture with Nikon to produce pro digital cameras.

The first one was called the Kodak/Nikon DCS, cost $25,000 and was released in 1990. Kodak took Nikon's film cameras and modified them to handle a digital sensor, which Kodak manufactured and for which they developed the software. (Up until recently, many high-end digital cameras used Kodak sensors).

Then they released as follows:
1991 DCS100 $13,000 1.3MP Modified Nikon F3
1992 DCS200 1.54MP Modified Nikon N8008s
1994 DCS410 1.54MP Modified Nikon F90
1994 DCS420 1.54MP Modified Nikon F90

(Nikon also had a deal with Fuji, with the first digital camera released in April of 1995 and Kodak also made cameras comprising of Canon bodies, but not until 1995).

So at least the first three Kodak/Nikon digital cameras were released before the Apple Quick Take 100. The issue is whether the patents in question derived from the earlier work Kodak did on these pro digital cameras or whether there were new patents with technology created or owned by Apple. But even if it was decided back in 1994 that Apple would own those Kodak patents, why is this being fought now? Shouldn't Apple have made sure back then that the patents were issued in their corporate name?

Besides, the most patents last is 20 years. If the patent was issued in 1994, it's going to be up in 2014 anyway. If Apple is still using any of the technology under this patent they should get the rights to use in perpetuity and if not, they should just let it go.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

Let's not be so fast to blame Kodak and assume Apple is correct on this one. Apple's Quick Take 100 was released in January of 1994, according to Mactracker.

Although not for the consumer market (because they were so expensive), Kodak previously had a joint venture with Nikon to produce pro digital cameras.

The first one was called the Kodak/Nikon DCS, cost $25,000 and was released in 1990. Kodak took Nikon's film cameras and modified them to handle a digital sensor, which Kodak manufactured and for which they developed the software. (Up until recently, many high-end digital cameras used Kodak sensors).

Then they released as follows:
1991 DCS100 $13,000 1.3MP Modified Nikon F3
1992 DCS200 1.54MP Modified Nikon N8008s
1994 DCS410 1.54MP Modified Nikon F90
1994 DCS420 1.54MP Modified Nikon F90

(Nikon also had a deal with Fuji, with the first digital camera released in April of 1995 and Kodak also made cameras comprising of Canon bodies, but not until 1995).

So at least the first three Kodak/Nikon digital cameras were released before the Apple Quick Take 100. The issue is whether the patents in question derived from the earlier work Kodak did on these pro digital cameras or whether there were new patents with technology created or owned by Apple. But even if it was decided back in 1994 that Apple would own those Kodak patents, why is this being fought now? Shouldn't Apple have made sure back then that the patents were issued in their corporate name?

Besides, the most patents last is 20 years. If the patent was issued in 1994, it's going to be up in 2014 anyway. If Apple is still using any of the technology under this patent they should get the rights to use in perpetuity and if not, they should just let it go.

That only addresses part of the issues involved.

First, we don't know the dates of the patents in question or the subjects. Some of them could be things that Apple brought to the table.

More importantly, though, we don't know what the joint venture agreement says about the patents. It is unlikely that they would have signed an agreement without addressing patents. So, even if Kodak is the legitimate inventor, if the JV agreement says that they signed the rights over to Apple, then Apple would be the rightful owner.

Finally, as you know, patents often take years to be issued. A patent filed for in 1994 might not have been issued for years, so there could still be a lot of time remaining.
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Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by icoco3 View Post

Guess Kodak hoped no one remembered.....

I think that in the Apple upheaval of the time, no one dang near remembered. However, it was Kodak that reminded Apple when they sued Apple for violating the patents Kodak stole from Apple.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Applecation View Post

As a long-time user of Kodak films before my first digital camera in 2002 (which effectively killed my film use), I am really sad to see that company in such dire straits.

I really hate to see Kodak in it's current situation.

Quote:
This law suit is akin to a drowning victim grabbing at any swimmer that happens by.

This is more like Apple dunking Kodak while Kodak was drowning. The amount of licensing income Kodak enjoyed from using Apple's research is over $1 billion (with a "B"). If Apple does this right, they can retrieve their patents AND put a lien of $1 billion on the rest of Kodak's patents.

In the late '70s Kodak got hit big for ripping off Polaroid's instant film process, so Kodak wasn't doing anything new with regard to Apple.
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