Now Kodak targets iPhone for patent infringement
Kodak is taking legal action against Apple’s iPhone and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, claiming that both infringe the company’s patents.
Kodak has filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission (ITC), alleging iPhones and BlackBerrys improperly use technology related to a method for previewing images. Apple and RIM declined to comment on the allegations.
The hugely successful iPhone has become a target for patent suits of late. Nokia filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in October, claiming that the iPhone breached patents covering wireless data, speech coding, security and encryption.
Kodak has been hit hard by the economic downturn as consumers eschew photo-taking holidays and businesses delay purchasing printing systems, but it has cultivated its patent portfolio into an important source of revenue.
In October, the company said it sees licensing revenue averaging at least $250 million to $350 million each year for the next several years.
It already has existing agreements with a broad array of technology companies, including Nokia, Motorola, Sony and Panasonic. In recent weeks it has settled patent suits against LG and Samsung.
Kodak says it wants compensation for the use of the technology and is open to talks with Apple and RIM. But it is asking the ITC to prevent Apple and RIM from importing infringing devices, including certain mobile phones and wireless communication devices featuring digital cameras.
In both district court actions against Apple, Kodak is seeking to permanently enjoin Apple from further infringement, as well as unspecified damages.
Kodak’s claims against Apple go a step beyond camera phones. In one of the district court suits, 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 and says it applies to “any Apple product” that uses that method.
Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross claims the attempt to make money from Kodak’s patent portfolio is smart, but warned it may not offset Kodak’s other concerns. “We remain concerned with Kodak’s dependence on nonrecurring IP licensing for cash flow, required investments in unprofitable inkjet platforms and exposure to the secular decline in analog film,” she says.