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ITC judge in Kodak vs. Apple, RIM case retires

The judge in charge of doling out a ruling in Kodak's complaint against Apple and Research In Motion with the U.S. International Trade Commission has retired.

A decision from the U.S. International Trade Commission on whether Apple and Research In Motion are infringing on a patent held by Eastman Kodak could face additional delays and a new outcome following the planned retirement of the judge who was presiding over the case.

The Wall Street Journal reports that ITC Chief Administrative Law Judge Paul Luckern retired from the agency today, and that cases he was presiding over--including this one--have now been reassigned to other administrative law judges.

The Journal notes that Luckern has worked as an administrative law judge with the agency since 1984 and was promoted to chief ALJ in 2008.

In its complaint, filed in January 2010, Kodak sought to get smartphones from both companies blocked from entering the U.S., arguing that their cameras made use of image previewing technology covered by a Kodak patent. This past January, an ITC administrative law judge had said that Kodak's technologywas not being used illegally in Apple's iPhone or RIM's BlackBerry devices, which prompted the ruling to be put to a review by a six-member commission. A notice from the ITC in late June said that the commission was reversing part of the initial ruling, as well as extending the determination until August 30, a decision that would have been Luckern's.

Apple lost a separate patent infringement suit against Kodak last month. The ITC announced it would not review Apple's complaint, which claimed Kodak was violating two of the company's patents. That case, filed last year, alleged that Kodak violated patent 6,031,964, a "system and method for using a unified memory architecture to implement a digital camera device," as well as patent RE38,911, a "modular digital image processing via an image processing chain with modifiable parameter controls."

Kodak's Chief Executive Officer Antonio Perez had told Bloomberg in March that a successful outcome in this particular claim could earn the company more than $1 billion in patent royalties from Apple and RIM. Furthermore, it was his belief that the company "deserves to win."