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Kodak strikes at Apple in iPhone, Mac patent dispute

RIM targeted too

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Eastman Kodak has issued lawsuits against both Apple and Blackberry maker Research in Motion, claiming neither of them has licensed its patents despite using the technology described therein and having been warned about it by Kodak.

The photography pioneer said the alleged infringement centred on intellectual property protecting a method for previewing colour images and the processing of images of different resolutions. It filed complaints against both Apple and RIM with the US District Court for Western New York.

A second lawsuit, filed with the same court, claims Apple's array of Macs and other devices infringe a separate Kodak patent detailing a method by which one application can call upon other apps to help it complete a task.

Kodak also raised these matters with the US International Trade Commission, asking the body to block the importation into the States of the allegedly infringing products. This is a common tactic in patent spats.

Equally common are out-of-court settlements. Kodak sued Sun Microsystems over use of the same 'helper apps' technology and, despite winning a jury trial in 2004, ultimately settled for a $92m payment from the server company in return for a licence for the patent.

Kodak also sued Samsung and LG for allegedly infringing the preview patent. Kodak settled with LG in early December 2009, then scored an initial victory against Samsung the same month when a District Court judge ruled the South Korean giant was guilty. Earlier this week, Kodak and Samsung announced a patent cross-licensing deal of the kind agreed with LG.

It's hard to see such an outcome not concluding both the Apple and the RIM fights.

Kodak said it already had licensing agreements in place with phone makers Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola. ®

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