Apple wants to sue bankrupt Kodak over patents

If you thought selling off your patents and filing for bankruptcy was enough to save a floundering company, think again. In the latest unexpected turn in the Kodak bankruptcy case, which the once prominent camera maker filed for on January 19 (see IP Blog), Apple Inc. last week asked a bankruptcy judge for permission to sue Eastman Kodak Co. over allegations that it is infringing patents that Apple says cover technologies used in printers, digital cameras, and digital picture frames.

In a filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, Apple said it plans to file a complaint against Kodak at the International Trade Commission and a fellow suit In the U.S. District Court in Manhattan over a digital camera developed with Kodak in the early 1990s for which Kodak then sought the patent.

However, Apple is proceeding cautiously. Bloomberg reports that  “Apple requests express authority from [the Bankruptcy] court before it initiates the actions out of an abundance of caution,” the company’s lawyers wrote in the filing.

Nonetheless, Kodak has come out swinging: “Apple should not be using the bankruptcy to seek to disrupt Kodak’s enforcement of its patents given that infringers like Apple, who continue to violate Kodak’s intellectual property rights and refuse to properly compensate it, have contributed to Kodak’s current circumstances,” Kodak wrote.