ITC arbiter rules Kodak did not infringe on Apple patents

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Kodak’s high-stakes patent infringement case against Apple has taken another turn, as an arbiter for the U.S. International Trade Commission has affirmed a judge’s decision in May that Kodak’s technology does not infringe on two Apple digital camera patents. The arbiter also ruled that one of the two patents is invalid.

The ruling essentially ends Apple’s patent infringement suit against Kodak, which industry watchers saw the Cupertino company using as leverage in a separate patent infringement suit Kodak is bringing against Apple and RIM over digital camera technology.

The new ruling comes after Kodak was dealt a setback in its infringement suit against Apple and RIM: although still preliminary, the ITC ruled that smartphones from Apple and RIM don’t violate a 2001 Kodak patent covering image previews.

Kodak maintains it will ultimately prevail in its infringement claims against both companies, noting that its patents had previously stood up to scrutiny in a very similar case involving South Korea’s LG and Samsung. The case is due to be heard by a full six-commissioner panel at the ITC.

Kodak is seeking as much as $1 billion in licensing fees from Apple and RIM if it prevails in the case.