US District Judge George Daniels denied Apple’s proposal to move the patent dispute with Eastman Kodak Company out of bankruptcy court and into his own District Court today. If Apple had been granted the proposal, it could have been tough going for Kodak’s plans to actually sell the technology.
The suit was filed last month in bankruptcy court in Manhattan by Kodak, who said that Apple had wrongly claimed ownership of 10 patents that Kodak believes are part of work the companies collaborated on in the first part of the 1990s. The suit also includes as a defendant a privately held company, FlashPoint Technology, who also claims ownership via an assignation from Apple. The 10 patents in question revolve around technology that lets users preview photographs on LCD screens, which is kind of a big deal.
The patents themselves are part of Kodak’s digital-capture patent portfolio, which Kodak claims has more than 700 patents for stuff like digital cameras, smartphones, and tablets. They claim the portfolio has made over $3 billion in revenues for the aging photography company since 2001.
Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in January, and is looking to sell its patents to help pay back a $950 million loan that it got to keep operating while in bankruptcy.
Kodak argues that Apple’s claims are time-barred, which refers to the refusal of a legal claim based on a specific or statutory length of time. Kodak further accuses Apple of claiming ownership as a way to interfere with an expected auction of said patents sometime in August.
Judge Daniels agrees with Kodak, and decided the dispute should remain in bankruptcy court until the judge there has made a ruling on some of the key issues. Apple, of course, disagreed, and argued that the case involves “substantive patent law,” requiring a “mandatory withdrawal to district court.”
So far, Judge Daniels word is law, so we’ll keep an eye on it. There is no word of an Apple appeal of the current ruling.