The International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled on Friday that neither Apple nor Research in Motion infringed Kodak’s patents. Unfortunately, Kodak was not the only victim in this dispute.
For the past several years, photography pioneer Eastman Kodak has been engaged in a battle with Samsung, LG, Apple, and Research in Motion over intellectual properties relating to digital photography. Based upon a patent that Kodak filed in 1997, the company alleged that it was entitled to large sums of money because the patent extended to the use of digital photography in mobile phones. The United States International Trade Commission, however, ruled that Kodak was wrong.
Initially, things looked good for Kodak. In 2009, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an initial determination that Samsung and LG had infringed Kodak patents relating to previewing images on LCD screens. While the companies could have awaited a final determination, and even appealed that in federal court, they decided to pay one-time royalty payments. Samsung agreed to pay $550 million, while LG agreed to pay $414 million.
The ALJ, however, did not rule on the claims against Apple and RIM. This allowed those companies to continue the legal fight rather than pay a massive settlement. Luckily for them, the ITC ruled on Friday that there was no infringement; the only costs that they have accrued are legal fees. These fees are likely substantial, but they are nowhere near the hundreds of millions of dollars that Samsung and LG agreed to pay.
As a result of this Hail Mary attempt by Kodak to remain relevant, Samsung and LG paid nearly one billion dollars, whereas Apple and RIM escaped virtually unscathed.