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Kodak Loses Suit Over Apple Patents


June 19, 2012
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Eastman Kodak Loses Suit Over Claims that Apple does not have Ownership Rights to a Set of Patents

A bankruptcy judge has dismissed the claims by Eastman Kodak that Apple does not have ownership rights to a set of patents that Eastman Kodak had planned to sell in its bankruptcy reorganization.

Kodak filed for protection under bankruptcy law in January 2012, and planned to sell various digital imaging patents as part of its Chapter 11 reorganization. However, Apple claimed ownership of several of these patents. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper initially found that the conflict between the two parties can be resolved in bankruptcy court.

“An adversary proceeding will permit the parties to raise issues in an orderly and expeditious fashion and preserve all of their just rights,” Judge Gropper said during the hearing.

Although Judge Gropper then dismissed Kodak’s claims that Apple has no interest in the patents, the bankruptcy judge said the company has options. Kodak may still proceed in bankruptcy court to sell the patents and give Apple a share of the sales cut, or allow the patent’s purchasers to resolve the dispute. A Kodak spokesman said the company is pleased with the ruling.

“The court outlined a path to ensure Apple and FlashPoint’s claims will not delay a sale,” the representative said. “It is a good outcome for Kodak and its stakeholders.”

However, Apple has contended that a U.S. District Court, rather than a bankruptcy court, should resolve the issue, and that Kodak cannot use its bankruptcy filing to “ramrod through a procedurally flawed and substantively meritless motion,” the group said in court papers, according to Bloomberg.

Apple and Kodak began collaborating in the 1990s, when the patents in question were developed. However, their collaboration ceased a few years later.