Eastman Kodak Co. on Monday ramped up its patent dispute with Apple Inc., filing a lawsuit against the California tech giant.
In its filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Southern District of New York, Kodak accuses Apple and New Hampshire-based FlashPoint Technology Inc. of attempting to delay and derail Kodak’s efforts to sell a collection of patents related to digital imaging.
The sale of those patents, as well as a second collection of patents, is seen as key to Kodak’s reorganization. The company last week, in a filing, outlined its plan to auction the patents in August.
Apple is the single largest infringer of patents in the digital capture portfolio, and a potential purchaser of those patents, Kodak said in the court papers. Since 2001, Kodak has generated more than $3 billion in revenue from licensing the patents.
Apple claims it owns 10 of the patents in Kodak’s portfolio; Flashpoint claims it, not Kodak nor Apple, owns the patents, the papers said.
“Apple’s strategy has been to use its substantial cash position to delay as long as possible the payment of royalties to Kodak, and to interfere with the (planned sale),” Kodak states in the legal papers.
Kodak is seeking a declaration that Apple and FlashPoint have no interest in any of the 10 claimed Kodak patents, a declaration Kodak can sell the patents free and clear of any interest of Apple or FlashPoint, and an injunction barring Apple and FlashPoint from asserting ownership claims under any theory to the Kodak patents.
At a June 13 hearing in Bankruptcy Court, Judge Allan Gropper observed the debtors “can obtain a final determination as to Apple and FlashPoint’s ownership rights quickly” through the “commencement of an adversary proceeding.”
Kodak said its action filed Monday seeks to do that to facilitate the planned sale of digital capture patents, which is slated to go forward on Aug. 8, subject to court approval.
The company, which filed for Chapter 11 protection on Jan. 19, is counting on the sale of the two portfolios of patents to provide cash needed to power its post-bankruptcy turnaround. Estimates have put the value of those patents at more than $2 billion. The auction is expected to attract interest from key players in the technology industry.
Kodak filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on June 11 seeking approval of bidding procedures for an auction of its digital capture and Kodak imaging systems and services patent portfolios. The two portfolios comprise more than 1,100 patents related to the capture, manipulation and sharing of digital images.
Kodak expects the motion to approve bidding procedures to be heard by the Bankruptcy Court on July 2. It expects the winning bidder to be announced by Aug. 13.
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