When the Eastman Kodak Company slammed Apple and Research In Motion with three infringement lawsuits in January 2010, they were crystal clear about a settlement being the desired outcome. Yesterday, their chairman and CEO Antonio Perez put a cash value on the litigation. In an interview with Bloomberg, Perez said Apple and RIM, if Kodak prevails, could pay a whooping $1 billion each in royalty fees related to Kodak’s digital camera technology. He said:
This is a lot of money, big money.
There’s something sinister about Perez’s words. I cannot help but remember how Samsung and LG were ordered to compensate Kodak $550 million and $414 million, respectively, over same infringement claims. Undeniably $2 billion from Apple and RIM would help Kodak’s bleeding bottom line. In last year Kodak added $838 million to its bottom line from patents alone. They license its intellectual property to some 30 companies such as LG, Motorola, Nokia and Sony Ericsson, among others. Remarkably, moving this huge pile of money around is the simplest of all features – image previews.
Kodak, which claims invention of the first ever digital camera back in 1975, argues the image preview feature used on camera phones such as iPhones and BlackBerrys infringes on its patents. The US International Trade Commission Judge Paul Luckern said in January that Apple and RIM don’t violate Kodak’s patents.
This finding was subject to review by a six person review board. The agency will make public its stance on a possible review at about 5pm Eastern time today. Should the decision be to pursue the review, the agency could wrap up the case by May 23.