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Kodak Case Against Apple, HTC to Get Agency Investigation

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Eastman Kodak Co.’s newest patent-infringement complaint against Apple Inc. and HTC Corp. will be reviewed by a federal trade agency that has the power to block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents.

The U.S. International Trade Commission agreed to investigate the claims filed by Kodak with the agency Jan. 10, according to a notice posted today on the Washington-based commission’s website.

Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection last month and is turning to its patent portfolio to help fund a turnaround. The company claims infringement of inventions related to digital photographs. It plans to phase out the unit that makes digital cameras and picture frames.

The complaint at the commission accuses Apple and HTC of using Kodak inventions covered by four patents related to image transmission, including a way for users to share images directly from cameras. Kodak also claims HTC is infringing a fifth patent for an image preview feature that’s at the center of another case at the agency against Apple and Research In Motion Ltd.

In the latest case, Rochester, New York-based Kodak is seeking to block imports of products including Apple’s iPad and iPhone, and HTC’s Flyer tablet and Wildfire S phone.

Import Ban

Kodak has said it filed the complaint after licensing negotiations failed, and it’s counting on the threat of an import ban to lead to a settlement.

The company has put its more than 1,100 digital-imaging patents up for sale. Chief Executive Officer Antonio Perez has said that the Apple-RIM trade commission case may generate $1 billion in new revenue.

The commission typically completes investigations in 16 to 18 months. The case against Apple and RIM has taken longer partly because the judge handling the case retired. A new judge is scheduled to release findings in that case in May.

The case is In the Matter of Electronic Devices for Capturing and Transmitting Images, 337-831, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington). The related civil case against Apple is Eastman Kodak Co. v. Apple Inc., 12cv6020, and the case against HTC is Eastman Kodak Co. v. HTC, 12cv6021, both in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York (Rochester).

To contact the reporter on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Shepard at mshepard7@bloomberg.net

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