Kodak Sues Apple in Bid to Quash Claims Over Patents

Apple Inc. was sued by Eastman Kodak Co. over ownership of patents that Kodak is planning to sell as part of its bankruptcy restructuring.

Apple is trying to “delay and derail” Kodak’s effort to sell a collection of patents related to digital imaging, Kodak said in a complaint filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. Apple is claiming ownership of 10 patents, according to Kodak.

“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 an auction planned for August, Kodak said.

The complaint comes about a week after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper rejected Kodak’s request for an order that Apple has no interest in the patents. The judge said the dispute could be resolved through an adversary proceeding. Kodak, based in Rochester, New York, said it needed the order for the sale, which it calls “critical” to its reorganization.

Kodak has sought court approval to auction patents related to the capture, manipulation and sharing of digital images. Apple is a potential purchaser, and is claiming ownership as “a ploy” to prevent Kodak from obtaining a fair price for its assets, Kodak said in court papers.

Appropriate Forum

Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet declined to comment. The Cupertino, California-based company has sought to move the dispute with Kodak out of bankruptcy court to U.S. District Court in Manhattan, which Apple says is the more appropriate forum.

In its complaint, Kodak is seeking a court order declaring Apple has no interest in the 10 patents and an injunction barring Apple from asserting ownership.

The bankruptcy case is In re Eastman Kodak Co., 12-10202, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District New York (Manhattan). The adversary proceeding is Eastman Kodak Co. v. Apple Inc., 12-01720, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The district court case is In re Eastman Kodak Co., 12-04444, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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