Apple Asks Bankruptcy Court for Permission to Sue Kodak
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Apple Asks Bankruptcy Court for Permission to Sue Kodak

February 24, 2012

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Bloomberg News reports that technology giant Apple has requested permission from the bankruptcy court to sue Eastman Kodak for patent infringement relating to printers, digital picture frames, and digital cameras. Apple was not legally obligated to submit its request through the bankruptcy court, sources note.

Apple’s move comes weeks after former film giant Kodak submitted a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in order to deal with its mounting debt burden. Reports surrounding Kodak’s bankruptcy case indicate that the company has plans to attempt to collect money from intellectual rights patents it holds on a number of technologies.

Apple was one of the companies named by Kodak as having infringed on those patents.

According to sources, Apple has plans to file a complaint against Kodak with the International Trade Commission (ITC), a federal agency in charge of overseeing matters of copyright infringement. It seems that the contention between the two companies dates back to the 1990s when, according to sources, Apple claims that it developed a digital camera in tandem with Kodak.

Apple alleges that Kodak sought the patent on this co-developed technology, but Kodak has apparently denied that charge.

A Challenge to Kodak’s Patent-Infringement Case

In a matter separate from its bankruptcy filing, it seems Kodak lodged a complaint with the ITC regarding the patents that have been the source of conflict between it and Apple. Since that filing, Apple has apparently argued that the ITC should not investigate Kodak’s claim, because Kodak (by its own admission) plans to sell the patents in question as part of its plan to exit bankruptcy.

In response, Kodak apparently claimed that the difficult financial circumstances that led the company to need bankruptcy protection were caused in part by the failure of companies like Apple to pay for the use of the intellectual property included in the patents in question.

The Real Irony of the Kodak Bankruptcy

While the legal squabbles between Apple and Kodak may seem petty and insignificant, both companies are invested for understandable reasons. For Kodak, one of those reasons is that its current financial struggles were brought about largely by the rise in popularity of the digital camera, which Kodak helped invent.

Kodak’s ability to repay creditorsand successfully exit bankruptcy may be affected by the ITC’s decision regarding this intellectual property case. A ruling is expected later in the week.


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