Business, Finance & Economics

Apple denied permission to sue Kodak by bankruptcy court


A sign is lit at the Kodak booth at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center January 10, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Eastman Kodak sued Apple Inc. and HTC Corp. on January 10, claiming infringement of technology. Apple had in turn attempted to sue Kodak, which filed for bankruptcy January 19.


Kevork Djansezian

Apple has been denied permission to sue Kodak for patent infringement by the film company's bankruptcy judge, the Los Angeles Times reported

The tech giant alleges that Kodak's digital cameras, digital photo frames and printers infringe on patents they own, according to the Times. 

Judge Allan Gropper, who is presiding over Kodak's Chapter 11 proceedings in a US District Court in New York, shot down Apple's request on Thursday. 

More from GlobalPost: Apple trying to sue bankrupt Kodak for patent infringement

Judge Gropper's rulings apply to both a pending suit Apple has against Kodak over the patent, as well as another complaint the company wanted to file that covers damages Apple claims Kodak has owed since it filed for bankruptcy on January 19, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The pending suit in the US District Court in Rochester, New York, was stopped automatically by both the International Trade Commission (ITC) and bankruptcy law, but Apple sought to lift the "automatic stay" which protects Kodak, according to the Journal. 

Though it appears to some that Apple is taking advantage of Kodak's Chapter 11 status, the struggling film company did initiate its own patent infringement lawsuit against Apple on January 10, just nine days before declaring bankruptcy, according to DailyTech.

More from GlobalPost: Eastman Kodak, storied American camera maker, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy (VIDEO)

The patent dispute is over the QuickTake 100 and 150 digital cameras that Kodak manufactured for Apple in the mid-1990s. Kodak alleged that both Apple and cellphone manufacturer HTC violated its patents with the design of the photo-taking and sharing features on their smartphone products, according to the Times. 

Apple argued that it has rights to the technology defined in the patent because it was developed when Kodak and Apple were working together on the QuickTake.

In May 2011, the ITC ruled that Apple had not violated Kodak-owned patents pertaining to the way photos were displayed on digital devices. Kodak has denied Apple's claims to any ownership, the Times reported. 

Judge Gropper asked Apple and Kodak to return to court on March 20 with recommendations of how to proceed with a hearing to resolve the argument efficiently, the Journal reported. 

"The first 45 days are difficult in any bankruptcy case; the debtor has dozens of balls in the air, dozens of matters to take care of," the judge told an Apple lawyer during Thursday's argument, according to the Journal. "What's the need for immediate relief?"

However, Apple is worried that Kodak might sell the patent over the course of their bankruptcy, before the ownership of the patent is resolved, DailyTech reported. Kodak countered that Apple is purposely trying to slow the patent sale process, which requires that Kodak seek approval for patent auction bidding procedures under the terms of its $950 million bankruptcy loan.

The patents at stake are worth between $2.2 billion and $2.6 billion, according to DailyTech. 

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