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ITC finds limited infringement in Kodak/Apple dispute


The U.S. International Trade Commission has finally weighed in on Kodak’s patent infringement case against Apple and RIM—and there wasn’t much good news for the photography giant. Although the federal agency did find some limited instances of patent infringement, the ITC essentially upheld the findings of one of its judges earlier this year that found neither Apple nor RIM were infringing on Kodak technology. Although the ruling modified some of the terms of the suit and sent some points back for further review—and Kodak could still win on those points—the commission’s decision reduces the likelihood that Kodak will see a major payday in the form of a settlement or damages.

Kodak shares have fallen significantly on the ruling, partially because the company had recently been making statements to Bloomberg and other outlets that it believed the case could bring $1 billion or more its bottom line.

The commission’s ruling revised definitions for “motion processor” and “still processor” used in Kodak’s patent complaints and asked the judge in the case to re-examine the claims with the new definitions to determine if Kodak’s patent was infringed with those definitions. The commission also ruled that Apple and RIM did infringe on a Kodak patent under a revised definition of “at least three different colors,” as well as a patent covering “initiating capture of a still image while previewing a motion image.” However, the commission threw out Kodak’s claims of infringement in regard to flash photos (saying Kodak had waived rights to make the claim) and referred Kodaks claims on non-flash photos back to the original judge.

The commission has not ruled on any penalties.

Kodak said it was gratified for the commissions’ decision to modify the judge’s original ruling. “We remain extremely confident this case will ultimately conclude in Kodak’s favor,” said Kodak general counsel Laura G. Quatela, in a statement.

Neither RIM nor Apple has yet commented on the ruling.

Kodak’s infringement claims against RIM primarily center on technology for creating a still image during preview on a camera’s LCD display. Kodak won a case against South Korea’s Samsung back in 2009 that reportedly resulted in a settlement worth more than $900 million to Kodak.

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