Kodak in Hot Water after Apple Contests Patent Ownership Claims

Embattled camera-maker Kodak Eastman Co., has filed patent infringement cases against Apple for its four patents relating to digital camera technology.

Apple however denies this claim and petitioned the US Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York hearing Kodak’s bankruptcy case to attach “clarifying language” to such orders by the court that will allow financing to Kodak. It asked the court to indicate that the patents owned by Apple or those it claims which remain disputed should not be attached as security or lien. It clarified that they are not blocking any request of Kodak for post petition financing but that Kodak cannot use the patents that they do not own as collateral.

Apple maintained that during the early 1990s, they had a partnership with Kodak which among others, focused on how Kodak can help Apple in the further development and commercialization of its digital cameras. This resulted in the sharing of digital camera technologies. The two companies entered into a non-disclosure agreement which also includes a provision that all the developments or changes in those technologies will remain with Apple. Therefore, ownership of the patents is with Apple and not Kodak. As a matter of fact, Apple added, that when the information that Kodak was using the subject technology and that they were already claiming the patents as their own, came to their attention in 2010, they were consequently pressed to file a patent infringement case. This still remains under litigation. Kodak on the other hand denies the allegations and maintains that they are the owner of the patents and not Apple.

Kodak has been aggressively claiming its patents in an effort to produce capital to sustain its operation. However, the efforts were still insufficient, prompting it to declare bankruptcy under Chapter 11 in New York. Kodak failed to adapt to the technological advances in digital photography which, ironically, it invented.