updated 01:00 am EDT, Fri June 15, 2012
Patents from QuickTake ownership in dispute
Southern District of New York Bankruptcy Court Judge Allen L. Gropper denied Eastman Kodak's assertion that Apple has no interest in patents it is trying to sell in a bankruptcy proceeding on Thursday. The judge ruled that Kodak can either schedule a trial to clear the patent dispute, sell the patents and give Apple a share of the proceeds, or pass the dispute onto any patent purchaser that may materialize.
The patents are remnants of Kodak and Apple's collaboration in the '90s on the QuickTake digital camera line. Kodak's position is that Apple is attempting to "delay and derail" the sale of the patent portfolio, and requested the court declare the patents solely Kodak's. Apple called Kodak's filing an attempt to “ramrod through a procedurally-flawed and substantively meritless motion,” and requested the case be transferred to the US District Court, which has more authority over patent law.
The portfolio up for auction on August 8 includes 744 US patents, 374 foreign patents, 155 pending US patent applications, and 244 pending foreign applications covering digital image capture and transmission, both in digital cameras and in smartphones equipped with cameras. Winning bids are scheduled to be announced August 13, with a sale hearing on August 20. Kodak is expecting the group of patents to generate billions of dollars at auction.
Kodak's entire patent portfolio has generated $3 billion in licensing fees since 2001. One of the patents in the group for sale was ruled invalid due to its obviousnessin May. The fallen camera giant stopped making cameras earlier this year after building them for 123 years.