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Kodak Loses Patent Case vs Apple, RIM

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled out Friday, July 21st, that the patent claim filed by Eastman Kodak against Apple and Research In Motion (RIM) was invalid. A Kodak representative however, said it would appeal to the ruling in a bid to make a point as to the validity of the claims it made as well as to make the two companies liable for the alleged infringement.

The legal battle between these companies started in January 2010 when Kodak sued Apple and RIM citing iPhone 3G and some BlackBerry devices have infringed U.S. Patent No. 6,292,218 for previewing an image on LCD of a digital camera before it is captured. The claim was for “fundamental” digital camera technology, so it failed to gain ITC Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender’s vote. Eventually, the ruling was issued against the Rochester-based imaging company.

“The investigation is thus terminated with a finding of no violation,” according to ITC’s notice.

The photography pioneer suffered a great deal of financial blow after it failed to quickly embrace modern technologies. Eventually, it was forced to file the Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January while announcing its plan to sell some of its intellectual-property assets. Kodak has over 1,000 patents related to digital imaging and since it is financially beleaguered, the patent claim left an impression that it is just after a good payday.

The recent ruling is yet another blow for the company but it assures the media that it couldn’t just accept it without a fight.

A Kodak spokesman issued a statement via an email on Saturday saying, “We intend to appeal the ruling on validity to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The validity of the 218 patent has been upheld in previous litigation at the ITC, and was affirmed by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office in the face of two separate challenges, so we are confident that its validity will ultimately be upheld.”

This case is important for Apple which is facing other battles with some mobile phone makers. RIM is also experiencing a financial crisis after three consecutive quarters of unsatisfactory sales performance. There is no telling it how the appeal would turn out for these companies, but for now, Kodak does not look so good.