Apple Beats Out Kodak's Smartphone Patent Suit

     WASHINGTON (CN) - Kodak lost its long-running battle with Apple and Research in Motion before the International Trade Commission over a patent to preview digital images on cellphone cameras.
     Despite its status as a digital photography pioneer, Kodak's failure to capitalize on that head start ultimately led to the 124-year-old company filing for bankruptcy this year.
     Kodak filed its original complaint against Apple and RIM with the commission in January 2010, alleging that several of their products violated its patent titled Electronic Camera for Initiating Capture of Still Images While Previewing Motion Images.
     A year later, the ITC's chief administrative law judge could not find a violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act, which bans infringement of intellectual property rights in items imported to the United States.
     The ITC remanded parts of that decision to a new judge after the chief judge retired. Kodak's celebration was short-lived on remand, however, since the new judge also found that the patent itself is not valid for "obviousness."
     After all of the litigants asked the ITC to review the remand determination, the commissioners voted unanimously to uphold.
     The decision marks a blow for Kodak, which had banked on selling most of its patents as part of a bankruptcy restructuring. Samsung and LG, which had agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement with Kodak over the same patents, are also left in the dust.
     During the course of the Apple and RIM investigation, Kodak tried unsuccessfully to use some of the findings that led Samsung and LG to settle. The judge investigating the current case refused to use findings from a case that was settled out of court.
     Apple and Kodak's aborted partnership to develop digital cameras in the early 1990s are the root of the current case and several others, including a similar ITC complaint Kodak filed against Apple for other digital camera technology earlier this year, a losing complaint Apple filed against Kodak with the ITC, and a long-running federal court battle between the companies.
     Kodak can still appeal the case to the Federal Circuit. On Monday, that court upheld an ITC determination that Kodak had not infringed on patents for digital camera technology owned by Apple.