Kodak not dead yet: Fires patent suits at Apple, HTC

Kodak may be mulling bankruptcy protection, but that doesn't mean it's not going to keep protecting its intellectual property.

Kodak, steps away from potentially filing for bankruptcy protection, isn't going to fade quietly.

The company said today that it filed lawsuits against smartphone makers HTC and Apple over camera technology, just the latest attempt to get tech companies to pay a licensing fee. The new lawsuits assert that Apple infringed on four Kodak patents and that HTC infringed on five. They were initially reported on by Florian Mueller, who runs the patent blog Foss Patents.

Kodak, meanwhile, is trying to find an acquirer. The company holds a war chest of 1,100 digital-imaging patents--crucial to cameras, phones, and other devices--that it is looking to sell. The patents could be useful for companies looking to buy some legal protection.

The four patents Kodak alleges that Apple violated respectively relate to a method of transferring an image from a camera to a service provider, the ability to transmit an image from an electronic camera, the ability to e-mail images, and the ability to selectively send images over a cellular or Wi-Fi network. Kodak asserted a fifth patent against HTC for a technology that relates to capturing a still image while previewing motion images. It had already sued Apple and Research In Motion over that patent.

The suits name nearly all of the iOS products, as well as a large number of HTC's Android devices.

"We've had numerous discussions with both companies in an attempt to resolve this issue, and we have not been able to reach a satisfactory agreement," said Laura G. Quatela, president and operating chief of Kodak. She added that the company is only seeking fair compensation for its patents.

"It would be premature to comment until we have had a chance to review the complaint," an HTC representative said.

An Apple representative declined to comment.

While Kodak is seeking money, ultimately, this is part of a marketing campaign for its patent portfolio. Kodak is trying to demonstrate the value of its patents, Foss Patents' Mueller said. He added that he expects Apple and HTC--entangled in their own lawsuits against each other--to work together to fight off Kodak's claims.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. PT to note that Apple declined to comment.

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