ITC agrees to investigate Apple’s patent claims against Kodak

Fri, May 14, 2010

Legal, News

The International Trade Commission (ITC) recently agreed to investigate Apple’s claims of patent infringement against Kodak.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has voted to institute an investigation of certain digital imaging devices and related software. The products at issue in this investigation are digital still cameras, digital video cameras, and related software.

The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Apple Inc., f/k/a Apple Computer, Inc., of Cupertino, CA, on April 15, 2010. The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States and sale of digital imaging devices and related software that infringe patents asserted by Apple. The complainants request that the USITC issue an exclusion order and a cease and desist order.

The root of Apple and Kodak’s current legal entanglement began back in January, 2010 when Kodak filed an ITC claim against both Apple and RIM alleging that the iPhone and camera-enabled Blackberry devices infringe on a Kodak patent relating to previewing images.

At the same time, Kodak filed two separate lawsuits against Apple alleging that certain Apple products infringe on a number of Kodak patents relating to digital cameras and certain computer processes. Kodak’s press release on the matter described the patents at issue thusly:

In the first suit against Apple in U.S. District Court, Kodak alleges infringement of two patents generally covering image preview and the processing of images of different resolutions. In the second suit, Kodak alleges infringement of patents that describe a method by which a computer program can “ask for help” from another application to carry out certain computer-oriented functions. The allegations in the second suit apply to any Apple product that uses the processing method described above. The patents at issue in the second suit were previously the subject of litigation between Kodak and Sun Microsystems Inc., and in that case, a federal jury determined in a 2004 trial that Sun’s Java programming technology had infringed the patents. Kodak later settled the suit by agreeing to a payment from Sun in return for a license for the patents at issue.

Flash forward to April, 2010 where Apple countersued Kodak for violating patents pertaining to image processing, energy management, and memory design. In conjunction with the aforementioned lawsuit, Apple also lodged a complaint with the ITC which apparently had enough merit to warrant an official investigation into the matter.

Apple is certainly becoming quite familiar with the ITC these days as it’s currently embroiled in a legal dispute with Nokia that has each tech powerhouse seeking to ban the import of each other’s devices.


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