OUCH! Can Kodak WIN A Legal Round Against Apple?

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Eastman Kodak (OTC:EKDKQ) has sued Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to try to stop the iPhone maker from interfering with its plans to sell a patent portfolio as part of its bankruptcy restructuring. Apple is a potential purchaser of the patents, Kodak said in court papers, but claims to own 10 of the patents in the portfolio.

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Kodak is trying to get a court order that declares it has permission to sell the 10 patents, while getting an injunction barring Apple from asserting ownership. “Apple’s strategy has been to use its substantial cash position to delay as long as possible the payment of royalties to Kodak and to interfere” with the planned sale, Kodak said. “Apple and FlashPoint are seeking to benefit from Kodak’s difficult financial position, which will be exacerbated if the debtors cannot obtain fair value for the patents.”

On June 13, a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge had dismissed Kodak’s request to rule that Apple had no interest in the group of patents and asked the photo company to file the lawsuit. “An adversary proceeding will permit the parties to raise issues in an orderly and expeditious fashion and preserve all of their just rights,” Judge Allan Gropper said during the hearing.

Kodak says it has received more than $3 billion in revenue from the patent portfolio since 2001. The patents include technology that helps camera owners preview photographs on LCD screens.

Kodak owns about 10,700 patents overall and needs to sell several of them under terms of a $950 million loan that it received to keep operating while in bankruptcy. It has hired Lazard (NYSE:LAZ) to help market the digital-capture portfolio and a digital-imaging portfolio, which includes more than 400 patents.

In a June 1 court filing, Apple said the dispute involves “an array of complex non-bankruptcy issues” that should be addressed in federal district court.

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