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Apple loses bid to transfer Kodak patent lawsuit to different court

U.S. district judge says presiding bankruptcy judge should have an opportunity address the motion to move the case, which could determine the ownership of valuable digital-imaging patents.

A federal judge has denied Apple's request to transfer its patent dispute with Kodak out of bankruptcy court, a move that could have disrupted the troubled photography company's plans to auction its digital-imaging patent portfolio.

U.S. District Judge George Daniels denied Apple's request for a change of venue to his court today, deferring to the judge presiding over Kodak's bankruptcy proceedings, according to a Reuters report. Judge Allan Gropper should have "an opportunity to render a decision on the motion and to have an opportunity to control and move forward the process," Daniels ruled.

Kodak, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, is attempting to auction 1,100 patents crucial to the operation of cameras, phones, and other devices, a vast portfolio the company said has generated more than $3 billion in licensing revenues since 2001.

However, Kodak sued Apple in June after the Cupertino, Calif.-based company and spin-off FlashPoint Technology claimed it owned 10 patents in the portfolio through a project the two companies worked on during the early mid-'90s. Apple fears the patents might be sold before its rightful ownership is determined by the courts.

Today's ruling does not bode well for Apple, which has been thwarted before by Judge Gropper in its efforts to claim the patents. In June, Gropper denied Apple's request to file a complaint with the International Trade Commission to unfreeze a patent lawsuit pending between the companies. Gropper said it would be inappropriate to allow Apple to continue pursuing claims against Kodak while the company is reorganizing.

The patents, which cover technology that allows consumers to preview digital photographs on LCD screens, is part of a portfolio of digital-imaging patents Kodak is hoping to sell for as much as $2.6 billion.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment and will update this report when we learn more.