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Kodak fails to stifle iPhone and BlackBerry imports

Patent case winds on

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The American International Trade Commission has ruled that neither the iPhone nor RIM's BlackBerry infringe Kodak's patent on previewing images, and so both can continue to be legally imported into the USA.

The presiding judge has decided that the patent, which covers previewing HD content in standard definition, isn't being infringed by Apple or RIM as it is an obvious variation of an earlier invention. That preliminary decision is open to review, with a final ruling expected on 23 May, but is still one in the eye for for Kodak, whose shares fell more than 8 per cent on the news.

The International Trade Commission (ITC) has the power to block imports of patent-infringing products to the USA, and reaches decisions a lot quicker than a court of law. These days an ITC complaint is generally appended to any US-patent-infringement action, as it is in this case. Kodak is pursuing Apple and RIM in the courts over the patent, and is in turn being pursued by both companies – Apple also has an ITC complaint against Kodak in progress.

Kodak had more luck with the same patent, and the ITC, against Samsung and LG, which ended up paying a total of $864m to license the technology following an earlier ruling. That was, as Bloomberg explains, before the US Patent office took another look at the patent at the end of last year, at the behest of RIM and LG. At that time, Kodak keenly reminds us, the office agreed the patent was valid. ®

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