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Kodak wins crucial round with ITC against Apple, RIM

kodak_logoLast month, Kodak lost ground in its patent infringement suit accusing Apple and RIM smartphone cameras of using its technology. Today, the ITC decided it will review that decision and gave Kodak an important victory in the case that could see the company an incredible increase in its licensing revenue, according to Bloomberg.

The case dates back to January 2010, when Kodak accused the smartphone-makers of using technology related to previewing moving images in low resolution while recording high-res stills. The ITC soon after began an investigation, and determined in January of this year that Apple and RIM were not guilty. But things are looking up now that the ITC will review the earlier finding, leaving Kodak to sit back and until for a final verdict, which is due by May 23. And what will it mean to Kodak if it’s able to come away with the win? Billions. According to Bloomberg’s report, Kodak could rake in an extra $1 billion in newly added licensing fees off the patented technology.

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It isn’t the first time Kodak has sued and won for the smartphone feature. In 2009, the veteran camera company took Samsung to court for patents regarding image compression, data storage, image preview, and image capture, which the manufacturer’s phones featured. But unlike the more recent legal drama, Samsung opted to settle out of court for a reported $964 million.

Kodak’s market value has struggled in recent years. It’s less of a big name in the digital camera world and obviously its print film business has taken a beating. But money from patent litigation has been its saving grace, raking in $838 million for the company. And the money doesn’t stop there: Kodak “expects to average $250 million to $350 million in annual revenue from intellectual property licensing through 2013. That figure doesn’t include potential Apple and RIM royalties.”

So it appears that Kodak may be able to coast on its patent lawsuits without spending much to manufacturer new devices, a habit tech companies have seemingly been relying on. That said, it’s hard to accuse the little guy (in this situation) of taking big names like RIM, Samsung, and Apple to court for profiting off its own ideas. Still, patent litigation in the industry is setting a dangerous precedent – and we’re likely only seeing the beginning of it.

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Patent dispute: Motorola Mobility wins injunction against Apple in Germany

It appears that it's been a rather bad week for Apple in the European courts. A report on Friday said that Apple had lost a patent infringement battle with Motorola Mobility in Germany -  this in the same week that a Spanish court also ruled against the Cupertino-based company. 
Florian Mueller wrote in a post on the FOSS Patents blog on Friday that the Mannheim Regional Court had granted Motorola Mobility an injunction against Apple, maker of the iPhone and iPad.
Mueller explains that the court ruling doesn’t specify which particular Apple products are at the center of the patent dispute, “but since the U.S. equivalents of both patents-in-suit were also asserted by Motorola Mobility in federal lawsuits in the United States, it appears that the entire range of Apple mobile devices is affected by this decision.”
However, banish from your mind images of store workers sweeping Apple’s mobile devices from the shelves of electronics shops across Germany - CNet’s Josh Lowensohn points out that it won’t affect sales because “the suit takes aim at Apple Inc. and not the company's local subsidiary in the region.”
Apple’s Kristin Huguet confirmed that its products can continue to be sold in the European nation. “This is a procedural issue and has nothing to do with the merits of the case. It does not affect our ability to do business or sell products in Germany at this time,” she told Cnet.
Responding to the court's decision, Motorola spokesperson Jennifer Erickson said: “We will continue to assert ourselves in the protection of these assets, while also ensuring that our technologies are widely available to end-users.” She added, “We hope that we are able to resolve this matter, so we can focus on creating great innovations that benefit the industry.”
One of the patents at the center of the dispute regards a “method for performing a countdown function during a mobile-originated transfer for a packet radio system,” while the other is a “multiple pager status synchronization system and method.” 
The judgment has come in the same week that a Spanish court also ruled against Apple in favor of a small tablet vendor following a claim by the Cupertino company that the Valencia-based firm had copied the design of the iPad.
A ban on the sale of its products in Germany would of course have come as a big blow to Apple as the holiday season approaches. The Mannheim ruling is just the latest episode in the ongoing patent wars between several of the world’s electronics giants, with courts around the world looking like they're going to be kept busy for some time to come.

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Report: Samsung counting the minutes until it sues Apple over the iPhone 5

According to The Korea Times, Samsung plans to fan the flames of its ongoing patent battles with Apple by suing the company over the iPhone 5 at launch. Insiders have reportedly revealed Samsung will attempt to block sales of the highly-anticipated phone in Korea as a form of retaliation.
“Just after the arrival of the iPhone 5 here [South Korea], Samsung plans to take Apple to court here for its violation of Samsung’s wireless technology related patents,” a Samsung senior executive who wished to remain unnamed told The Times. “For as long as Apple does not drop mobile telecommunications functions, it would be impossible for it to sell its i-branded products without using our patents. We will stick to a strong stance against Apple during the lingering legal fights.
Samsung and Apple have had a confusing relationship. Samsung has been a major parts provider to Apple – in fact, Apple is speculated to spend some $7 billion on Samsung hardware components over 2011 and the manufacturer makes a surprising amount of what goes into the iPhone 4. Despite this partnership of sorts, the two have engaged in full-on war over their respective Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab and iPhone and iPad lineups. These conflicts date back to April 2011, when Apple made the first strike by suing Samsung over its Galaxy lineup and Samsung countersued, accusing Apple of infringing on a variety of its patents.
Lately, Apple has been coming out ahead. It was able to block the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany, with other attempts and successful bans throughout Europe. Samsung, for the most part, has been playing defense against Apple’s various suits, but if the rumors are true the iPhone 5 will mark a major offensive move and likely escalate the patent battle.
What about the iPhone 5 infringes on Samsung’s patents remains to be seen, but Apple is expected to announce the handset within the coming weeks. There is a possibility Samsung is simply all talk, as insiders suggest the company is hesitant to launch such a major suit against its biggest customer. And the fallout from blocking the iPhone 5 won’t just be felt by Apple: Korea’s wireless carriers will undoubtedly be hurt as well. Samsung’s feeling Apple’s pressure, and we wouldn’t be surprised if this whole thing is a ruse to try and instill a little fear in its rival.
Hopefully the iPhone 5 announcement is just around the corner, and we’ll see how the Samsung-Apple skirmish plays out then.

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HTC sues Apple for patent infringement on patents from Google

It wouldn’t be a normal day in the tech world without some sort of legal dispute between mobile phone makers. Today’s news comes courtesy of HTC who has filed yet another lawsuit against Apple. What makes this news even more juicy is the fact that HTC obtained the patents that it is basing its case on from Google. On September 1 Google transferred nine patents over to HTC, and today’s suit focuses on four of those patents. At this time we do not know what each of the nine patents cover, or how Apple is infringing on those patents.
The nine patents from Google come from a variety of places such as Motorola, Palm, and Openwave Systems. It should be noted that the patents were transferred from Motorola before Google’s offer to purchase Motorola, and are independent of the purchase. There is no word on how much money HTC paid for the patents from Google, but it is clear that they did not waste any time using them against Apple.
This is the latest in the line of legal battles between Apple and Android device makers. Besides Apple’s ongoing battle with Samsung, HTC filed a patent suit last month against Apple. Apple is fighting on several fronts, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how all the battles will end.
If Google had the patents why didn’t Google attack Apple on its own instead of having HTC do its dirty work? When Google bought Motorola it said that it did so to protect Android, so maybe it has decided the best defense is a good offense?

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