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Apple Loses Attempt to Pursue Patent-Infringement Fights Against Kodak

Apple Inc. (AAPL) lost a bid to file a patent-infringement complaint against Eastman Kodak Co. (EKDKQ) and restart litigation over ownership of a patent that Kodak intends to sell while in bankruptcy.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper in Manhattan today denied Apple’s request to file a complaint with the International Trade Commission and attempt to unfreeze a patent lawsuit pending between the companies.

The setback for Apple comes as Kodak, which filed for bankruptcy in January, is planning a sale of its digital imaging patent portfolio, which it says is worth as much as $2.6 billion.

The fight over whether Apple owns one of the patents in the portfolio should be overseen by Gropper, Kodak said in court papers. Kodak has said Apple’s claims of ownership, which it calls “baseless,” are potentially damaging to the sale. It has sought court permission to investigate the matter and obtain documents from Apple.

“We think the uncertainty it creates is detrimental,” Andrew Dietderich, a lawyer for Kodak, said at the hearing.

Apple, in seeking to file the ITC complaint, said in court papers that it owns “a number of valuable patents that Kodak is infringing in the course of its daily operations.” Apple said it also planned to seek an injunction against Kodak in federal court.

Digital Picture Frames

The patents cover technologies used in printers, digital cameras and digital picture frames, Apple said.

Separately, Apple sought to proceed with a dispute against Kodak over ownership of the patent in Kodak’s digital imaging portfolio. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, claimed in court papers that Kodak obtained the patent “by secretly taking Apple’s innovations.”

Kodak in January 2010 asked the ITC to investigate whether Apple’s iPhone infringes the patent and filed a companion complaint in federal court in Rochester, New York, where it is based, according to court papers filed by Apple. Apple later filed its own claims against Kodak.

The federal court case is stayed, and Apple wanted to ask the district court to lift the stay and transfer the case to federal court in Manhattan, it said.

The case is In re Eastman Kodak Co., 12-10202, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: David McLaughlin in New York at dmclaughlin9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net

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