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Kodak sues Samsung over patents

Following legal action against Apple, HTC, and Fujifilm, Kodak is now suing Samsung, alleging violations of five patents related to digital photography.

In the midst of filing for bankruptcy, Kodak is keeping the patent courts busy with yet another lawsuit.

The company yesterday launched a suit against Samsung, alleging violations of five patents related to digital imaging.

Filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, the suit (PDF) claims that Samsung infringed on patents connected to such technologies as the ability to send an image from a digital camera, the ability to e-mail images, and the ability to send images over a cellular or Wi-Fi network.

The five specific patents in question are:

  1. U.S. Patent No. 6,292,218 - "Electronic Camera For Initiating Capture of Still Images While Previewing Motion Images"
  2. U.S. Patent No. 7,210,161 - "Automatically Transmitting Images from an Electronic Camera to a Service Provider Using a Network Configuration File"
  3. U.S. Patent No. 7,742,084 - "Network Configuration File for Automatically Transmitting Images from an Electronic Still Camera"
  4. U.S. Patent No. 7,453,605 - "Capturing Digital Images to be Transferred to an E-Mail Address"
  5. U.S. Patent No. 7,936,391 - "Digital Camera with Communications Interface for Selectively Transmitting Images over a Cellular Phone Network and a Wireless LAN Network to a Destination"

Kodak said that it has licensed its digital imaging patents to more than 30 tech companies, including LG, Motorola, and Nokia, with all of those licenses bearing royalties to Kodak.

The action against Samsung follows similar suits triggered by Kodak last week against Apple, HTC, and Fujifilm.

The lawsuit against Apple alleges violations of four of the five same patents cited in the Samsung case, while the suit against HTC includes all five. The complaint against Fujifilm covers patent no. 6,292,218 but includes three additional patents as well.

By targeting Apple, HTC, and Samsung, Kodak is specifically aiming at smartphone makers whose built-in cameras and photo apps rely on the various digital technologies named in the suits.

The legal salvos are seen as Kodak's attempt to stay alive by collecting licensing fees on some of its key digital patents. The company has also been trying to shore up its patent portfolio in order to sell it on the open market to raise money.

But late yesterday, Kodak announced that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The company has already secured $950 million from Citigroup to keep its business afloat as its restructures with an eye toward solvency in 2013. Still, if Apple and the other plaintiffs decided to settle the suits, Kodak could rake in those critical licensing fees and then retain the option of selling its 1,100 digital imaging patents to drum up more cash.

Samsung did immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.

But a spokesman for Kodak sent CNET a statement from the company's president Laura Quatela. Though the statement was originally released in response to the Apple and HTC lawsuit, the spokesman said that it applies to the Samsung case as well.

"Our primary interest is not to disrupt the availability of any product but to obtain fair compensation for the unauthorized use of our technology," Quatela said in the statement. "There's a basic issue of fairness that needs to be addressed. The failure of companies to appropriately compensate Kodak for the unauthorized use of our patented technology impedes our ability to continue to innovate and introduce new products."

Updated 10:30 a.m. PT with response from Kodak.