Kodak has received a major blow to its hopes after the international Trade Commission has rejected its patent complaints against Apple and Research in Motion. Judge Luckern rejected the complaint related to the patent in question, for low resolution moving previews, as being too obvious a version of an earlier patent and not being usable anymore. As a result, neither the BlackBerry nor the iPhone could violate in any way the patent.
The ruling is not yet absolute. An ITC panel has to review it before being able to be upheld. Both Apple and RIM are still facing legal challenges because another judge, in Kodak’s principal complaint against Samsung and LG, had upheld exactly the same patent. Laura Quatela, Kodak’s General Counsel, considered the loss only as a “preliminary step” but never doubted that Kodak would finally be the winner.
It is known that Kodak recurred to lawsuits, like the one mentioned above, as a form of business and after failing to transition rapidly from film-based cameras to digital ones. The American camera producer has had a lot of troubles while competing against rivals like Fujifilm, Canon or Nikon that had a much shorter transition to digital cameras. Kodak has even gone so far as considering this as an important business and hoped to earn between $250 million and $350 million as a result of lawsuits and royalty payments starting with 2009 and for the next few years.
Some opponents have observed that some of the claims Kodak made would eventually cover every digital camera and considered that prior art would be the central issue.