Apple Says Kodak Loan Terms Should Shield Disputed Patents

Apple Inc. asked a bankruptcy court to attach “clarifying language” to any order approving financing for Eastman Kodak Co.

Apple said in a filing today the order should indicate that no security interests or liens will attach to patents that Apple owns and has asserted claims on until the court resolves the ownership dispute between it and Kodak.

“Apple does not oppose Kodak’s acquisition of postpetition financing as a general matter,” the maker of the iPhone and iPad said in court papers. “However, Kodak cannot grant security interests in and liens upon patents that Kodak does not own.”

Citigroup Inc. agreed to provide $950 million in financing to help Kodak operate during bankruptcy, the photo company said today in a statement. Kodak is seeking permission to borrow as much as $700 million on an interim basis, court papers show. The loan must be approved by a bankruptcy judge.

A group of noteholders has also filed an objection, saying there should be “significant restrictions” on Kodak’s ability to borrow and spend.

Kodak, the photography pioneer that introduced its $1 Brownie Camera more than a century ago, filed for bankruptcy today after consumers embraced digital cameras, a technology Kodak invented and failed to commercialize.

Assets, Debt

The Rochester, New York-based company, which traces its roots to 1880, listed assets of $5.1 billion and debt of $6.8 billion in Chapter 11 documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.

Apple has claimed it is the true owner of the image-preview patent that is the subject of infringement claims lodged against Apple and Research in Motion Ltd. The Cupertino, California-based company contends that it developed a digital camera in the early 1990s that it shared with Kodak, and that Kodak then sought the patent on the technology. Kodak has denied the allegations.

The U.S. International Trade Commission rejected the ownership arguments in a case that’s still pending at the Washington agency, and it’s an issue in a civil suit that’s on hold in federal court in Rochester.

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

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