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Judge nixes Apple's bid to patent-bash bankrupt Kodak

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A US judge has refused to let Apple kick Eastman Kodak while it's down by halting the iPad maker's patent infringement litigation against the bankrupt biz.

The fruity firm is freaking out because it's afraid that Kodak will flog its precious patents to sort out its dire finances.

Judge Allan Gropper, sitting in a US bankruptcy court in New York, said that the lawsuit, which was pending when Kodak entered Chapter 11 proceedings, had to stay paused as per bankruptcy law, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The judge said that unfreezing the case would be "inappropriate", but added that Apple and Kodak could settle if they wanted to and bring details of the deal to him for approval. He wants the case sorted out quickly and asked both parties to come up with some ideas of how to resolve the fight by 20 March.

When a company files for bankruptcy in the States, it usually gets "automatic stays" on pending lawsuits to give it breathing space to reorganise. Apple wanted this stay waived because it reckons that every time Kodak uses the patents in question - which involve the tech used in printers, digital cameras and digital picture frames - the alleged damages grow.

The iPhone maker claims that Kodak "misappropriated" its technology to get a patent allowing previews of a digital image on an LCD screen, an allegation that Kodak says is "baseless".

Kodak wants to sell off its patent portfolio, estimated to be worth up to $2.6bn, at auction to jumpstart the business back to health. The company has to get court approval for the sale under the terms of its $950m bankruptcy loan by June.

Apple also wanted to file a new patent lawsuit, saying it would only look for damages from Kodak when its bankruptcy was over, but Judge Gropper nixed that request as well. ®

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