January 26, 2012 - As Kodak attempts to use its valuable patents as collateral in securing financing, Apple is attempting to block those efforts by claiming that at least one of those patents was wrongfully obtained and actually belongs to Apple (and is at the center of an unresolved patent ownership dispute).
The '218 patent, according to Apple's complaint (PDF), "generally claims a digital camera capable of capturing an image while previewing the scene to be captured on an LCD screen." It is at the heart of a patent infringement and patent ownership dispute between Apple and Kodak that goes back to July 2010, when Kodak requested that the ITC look into Apple's iPhone products and determine if their digital camera feature infringes the patent.
However, Apple launched an investigation of its own into the ownership of the invention, based on collaboration between Kodak and Apple in the development of digital camera technology. Apple concluded that "Apple is in fact the rightful owner of the ‘218 patent (and potentially many other Kodak patents) pursuant to disclosures made by Apple to Kodak and contracts made between the parties in the early 1990s." Apple then filed a lawsuit against Kodak in August 2010 over ownership of the patent.
Apple claims that Kodak has earned somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 billion from licensing this particular digital camera patent and others in the same area of technology.
"Kodak cannot grant security interests in and liens upon patents that Kodak does not own," the complaint reads. "Accordingly, Apple respectfully requests that any order approving the proposed financing...contain clarifying language that no security interests or liens will attach to patents to which Apple is the owner and has claimed ownership unless and until there is a judicial determination resolving the ownership dispute between Apple and Kodak."