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Kodak Sues Apple and HTC
Fading American Icon Claiming Patent Infringement

Eastman Kodak, the erstwhile American icon that's been threatening to turn into road kill if it can't sell off a chunk of its patent portfolio, sued Apple and HTC Tuesday in a New York district court for patent infringement.

It also complained to the International Trade Commission claiming the device makers' camera-enabled iOS and Android smartphones and tablets (iPods too) tread on its digital imaging technology, specifically in the way they transmit images.

Kodak is already suing Apple for infringing a patent that covers technology related to a method for previewing images. Now it's saying the same thing about HTC's widgetry.

Otherwise, the two are charged with infringing the same four patents.

Kodak president and COO Laura Quatela said in a statement, "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."

Although Kodak is asking for an exclusion order, Quatela said Kodak wasn't interested in disrupting the availability of any product. It just wants to be fairly compensated. "We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars creating our pioneering patent portfolio," she said.

Motorola, Samsung and Nokia pay Kodak royalties. So do 30 other companies.

The FOSS Patents blog figures the lawsuits are supposed to demonstrate to a strategic buyer that there's enough value in the Kodak portfolio that it can be used to sue major wireless device makers.

The patents-in-suit include US Patent No. 7,210,161 - "Automatically Transmitting Images from an Electronic Camera to a Service Provider Using a Network Configuration File;" US Patent No. 7,742,084 - "Network Configuration File for Automatically Transmitting Images from an Electronic Still Camera;" US Patent No. 7,453,605 - "Capturing Digital Images to be Transferred to an E-Mail Address;" and US Patent No. 7,936,391 - "Digital Camera with Communications Interface for Selectively Transmitting Images over a Cellular Phone Network and a Wireless LAN Network to a Destination."

Kodak added US Patent No. 6,292,218 ("Electronic Camera for Initiating Capture of Still Images While Previewing Motion Images") to the HTC charges. It's the same patent at issue in the pending ITC action initiated by Kodak in January 2010 against Apple and Research In Motion. Kodak estimates the Apple-RIM case could be worth a billion dollars. A decision isn't expected before September.

Meanwhile, Kodak said it has reorganized to cut costs, accelerate its transformation into a digital company and create shareholder value.

The Wall Street Journal said last week that if it can't raise cash by selling off upwards of 1,100 patents to fund a turnaround, it was going to have to seek bankruptcy protection. It's also been looking for new financing to keep operating.

Its new structure cuts its operating units from three to two: commercial and consumer. It may get kicked off the New York Stock Exchange if it can't raise its share price. It closed at 60 cents Tuesday.

About Maureen O'Gara
Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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