Some of Apple’s Ownership Claims Denied in Kodak Patent Suit
Late Thursday, a U.S. bankruptcy judge ruled that Apple has no claim to two of eight disputed patents Kodak hopes to sell at auction this month. In his ruling, Judge Allan Gropper found that Apple waited too long to raise claims of infringement on the ’218 and ’335 digital imaging patents — two of the more valuable patents in Kodak’s portfolio. Kodak’s ability to sell the assets would be “cut off” if Apple’s “unreasonably late claims” aren’t rebuffed, he wrote.
“If Apple’s claims proceed despite their unreasonably delayed commencement, Kodak might have to go back to the drawing board for ways to fund its case,” Gropper explained.
On the eight other patents at issue between the two companies, Gropper denied Kodak’s motion for summary judgment, so this wasn’t a sweeping victory. But it’s a promising turn of events for the struggling photography pioneer, which would otherwise have seen its plans for a patent sale hamstrung.
Kodak, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, hopes to auction the ’218 and ’335 patents off, along with a thousand or so other digital-imaging patents. But Apple claims it is their true owner, and that Kodak misappropriated them when the two companies were exploring how best to commercialize Apple’s digital-camera technologies back in the early ’90s. And it has sued Kodak to stop the sale. Meanwhile, Kodak has sued Apple, accusing it of attempting to “delay and derail” its patent-sale efforts, to drive the portfolio’s value down so it can purchase it at a lower price.