Kodak strikes at Apple in iPhone, Mac patent dispute
RIM targeted too
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. ®
Change the software.
Not that big of a deal.
Antonio M. Perez
Sent from my iPhone
think about it chap...
Whilst it could be as simple as 'they only just noticed' there are a plethora of other potential reasons why they only sued now...e.g.:
maybe the infringement came with the latest model/firmware/etc from RIM/Iphone
Until a big market is provable for an infringement, why bother suing... hence they wait for the iphone, or whatever, to rack up (even) more sales. So then they can prove value of patent to infringer is high (i.e. sold a lot of devices that incorporated the patented technology), hence losses to them are high, hence damages can be high too.
A patent is for 20 years, with some limitations on time between when infringement begins and the patent owner sues without loss of damages, so why not do things later in the day. In fact it usually means you get more money, as real potential losses have racked up, etc, as opposed to theoretical ones. What you DO NOT want is an early judgement/ settlement level based on certain projected sales levels, and then it turns out it sold 100x more than expected... E.g. even astute contributors to this very website wagered the iphone was going to be a fail... but look what happened there! humble pie eaten (and respect given to him for doing so, and not spinning it in some other way, a la Labour stylee.- we all get things wrong!). I guess this boils down to: do you think they will get more damages (if they win) now, after millions of iphones sold, or on the first day the iphone went on sale? Methinks the former.
Corporations move slowly in these areas at the best of times - they are known to have been in licensing talks with other companies before hand, they are known to have notified apple/RIM about the infringement (which takes time to do, and would have to provide a reasonable time frame to respond/comply), so it is reasonable to assume that they have seen how otehr patent disputes on these matters have gone with the otehr companies before taking on even bigger ones, plus have probably been in a patent licensing dispute with apple/RIMfor months, if not years, which have not gone the way Kodak wanted, so they sue now. It called business tactics. They are long, protracted, and costly.If they weren't, anyone could do them, and the world would be utter chaos.
Patent (indeed any civil litgation requiring a lot of disclosures, etc) cases can take a long time to get going, so maybe this case was started earlier than you think. Just because elReg did not comment on this before, does nto mean it did not exist before today. BTW, yes, a tree falling in a wood that nobody saw fall, still made a noise when doing so!
When pennies are freely available, people get on with picking them up (i.e. in a growing/steady economy, everyone makes hay while the sun shines). When the pennies are tight, everyone starts to take the pennies off one another (i.e. fighting over what revenue there is, is more common in a recession). This is basic human nature, and the reason why humans will wipe each other out over water/food/land/etc when ever it is scarce and in contention.
I shall stop there.
From a previous Kodak campaign (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/03/10/kodak_sues_sony_over_digital/)
"Kodak is moving from its dominant position in film cameras to challenge Sony, which holds the top spot for digital cameras."
Well, given that Sony sensors are appearing in a lot of cameras these days, and that Sony has been quite aggressive in introducing models across the entire spectrum (apart, perhaps, from the top end), we can see how that turned out for Kodak. Maybe Kodak sell a bunch of low-end compacts - reviews of which have been mostly unfavourable in the publications I've been reading - but their competitors seem to think there's more money to be made in cameras where the margins aren't razor-thin to begin with. At least in the camera market, the smart money is on their competitors as usual.
From another shakedown by Kodak (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/10/07/kodak_sun_settle/):
"Kodak's patents were acquired when it purchased Wang Laboratories back in 1997 and covered a broad swath of software calls."
"[A] method for previewing colour images and the processing of images of different resolutions" sounds like software patents to me - dodgy by definition - and hasn't a great deal to do with sensor technology. And when it's stuff acquired from Wang over a decade ago, it isn't really about people discovering or developing new stuff: it's more about patent portfolio trading. Maybe that's your idea of research and development, but it isn't mine, nor is it what most people consider R&D to be.