ITC Targets RIM, Apple Smartphones

The International Trade Commission agrees to investigate Kodak's claims that Research In Motion's BlackBerrys and Apple's iPhones with digital cameras are infringing on Kodak patents. The digital camera and inkjet maker hopes to win to injunction barring the import of the infringing devices with the aim of forcing RIM and Apple into royalty payments.

The International Trade Commission has opened an investigation into Eastman Kodak's claim that both Research In Motion and Apple smartphones featuring digital cameras are infringing on Kodak patents. Kodak, which makes digital cameras and inkjet printers, filed its complaint Jan. 14.
The ITC Kodak complaint specifically claims that Apple's iPhones and RIM's camera-enabled BlackBerry devices infringe a Kodak patent that covers technology related to a method for previewing images. Kodak said it wants compensation for the use of the technology and is open to talks with Apple and RIM. In the meanwhile it is asking the ITC to prevent Apple and RIM from importing infringing devices.
Separately, Kodak filed two suits Jan. 16 against Apple in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York that claim the infringement of patents related to digital cameras and certain computer processes.
"Our primary interest is not to disrupt the availability of any product but to obtain fair compensation for the use of our technology," Laura Quatela, Kodak's chief intellectual property officer, said in a statement after the lawsuits were filed. "There's a basic issue of fairness that needs to be addressed. Those devices use Kodak technology, and we are merely seeking compensation for the use of our technology in their products."
The ITC's chief administrative law judge will assign the case to one of the trade agency's six ALJs (administrative law judges), who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing. The ALJ will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation, with that initial determination being subject to ITC review. Within 45 days of when the investigation is instituted, the ITC will set a target date for completing the investigation.
"In the case of Apple and RIM, we've had discussions for years with both companies in an attempt to resolve this issue amicably, and we have not been able to reach a satisfactory agreement," Quatela said. "In light of that, we are taking this action to ensure that we protect the interests of our shareholders and the existing licensees of our technology."