Kodak files patent suits against Apple and HTC

News 11 Jan, 2012

Apple and HTC are accused of breaching various patents by the camera maker.

Photography firm Kodak has filed lawsuits against Apple and HTC for alleged infringement of patents covering digital imaging technology.

Kodak believes the two tech giants are infringing its IP in camera-enabled devices, including iPhones, iPads and iPods as well as various HTC smartphones and tablets.

The camera maker has also alleged HTC’s smartphones infringe a patent covering technology related to a method for previewing images, which is already the subject of pending actions against Apple.

Kodak has been trying for some time to find a strategic buyer for its digital imaging patents.

Kodak has filed suits in the US District Court for the Western District of New York and filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission (ITC), both covering the same patents.

"We’ve had numerous discussions with both companies in an attempt to resolve this issue, and we have not been able to reach a satisfactory agreement," said Laura G Quatela, president and CEO at Kodak.

"Our primary interest is not to disrupt the availability of any product but to obtain fair compensation for the unauthorised use of our technology. There’s a basic issue of fairness that needs to be addressed. The failure of companies to appropriately compensate Kodak for the unauthorized use of our patented technology impedes our ability to continue to innovate and introduce new products."

Kodak wants the ITC to ban further importation of the allegedly infringing devices, as well as compensation.

"We remain open to negotiating a fair and amicable agreement with these companies, which has always been our preference and our practice with other licensees," added Timothy Lynch, chief intellectual property officer.

"We seek to avoid litigation in our licensing programs whenever possible. But when the infringement is persistent, we will act to defend the interests of our shareholders and licensees, and to promote the fair compensation that is the bedrock of innovation."

IP expert Florian Mueller believes that despite Apple and HTC fighting each other in separate litigation, the two will work together in the Kodak cases.

"At the very least they will probably conduct a joint prior art search, and they could also be interested in narrowing the scope of the asserted patents claims so as to avoid liability for infringement," Mueller said in a blog post.

"Kodak has been trying for some time to find a strategic buyer for its digital imaging patents. Today's lawsuits are presumably part of the sales and marketing effort for those patents: Kodak seeks to demonstrate that there are still some interesting assets in its portfolio that can be used to sue major wireless device makers."

HTC told IT Pro: "It would be premature to comment until we have had a chance to review the complaint."

Apple declined to comment on the story.