Kodak sues Samsung over image patents in latest lawsuit

Samsung cameras The ability of Samsung's cameras to upload pictures to remote servers may infringe Kodak's patents

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Eastman Kodak is suing Samsung over claims its patents have been infringed.

The US camera and printer maker said the complaint relates to five of its digital imaging technologies.

It is the latest in a series of patent lawsuits filed by the firm since the start of the year.

Kodak said on Wednesday that it was seeking bankruptcy protection. That followed an announcement in July that it was looking to sell or license about 1,100 digital imaging patents.

The latest alleged infringements include technology to make an electronic camera capable of "automatically transmitting images... to a service provider using a network configuration file," and having a "communications interface for selectively transmitting images over a cellular phone network and a wireless LAN network to a destination".

Samsung launched its AllShare Play cloud storage service, which allows its cameras to upload pictures to remote servers after they are taken, earlier in the month.

The South Korean firm could not be reached for comment.

Samsung settled a previous dispute in 2010 after its Blackjack II camera was accused of infringing Kodak patents. It agreed to a cross-licensing deal which involved it paying royalties to its rival. Further financial details were not disclosed.

Kodak has also filed lawsuits against Apple and HTC involving the same five patents.

In addition it is suing Fujifilm over a separate, but overlapping, set of claimed infringements. Kodak alleged that the Japanese company had made use of its technologies including the "quick review of last captured image" and "user selectable image record size".

Lawsuits mount

Kodak's actions add to an upswing in legal activity between the tech firms after December's holidays.

Over the past fortnight:

  • The Spanish tablet maker NT-K filed claims against Apple accusing the US firm of "extortion"; this followed NT-K's successful defence of claims that it had infringed an Apple design
  • LG and Microsoft agreed a patent licensing deal that allows LG to use technologies involved in Google's Android system that Microsoft claims to own
  • Oracle offered to drop patent infringement claims against Google if US courts agreed to speed up its copyright claim against the search firm
  • Apple brought two new design lawsuits against Samsung in Germany relating to tablet computers and smartphones
  • Microsoft and Motorola Mobility asked the International Trade Commission to review its preliminary ruling that Motorola's Android devices infringed four Microsoft patents

One patent expert linked the lawsuits to economic problems.

"In a time of recession people are looking for more marketshare, and one way of dealing with your competition is to use your patent portfolio to muscle them out of the market," said Vicki Salmon, a member of the UK's Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys who does not represent any of the mentioned companies.

"In times of plenty there is enough to go round and you do not need to be worried so much about who is infringing on your patch."

However another lawyer, who asked not to be named because his firm represents several of the firms involved, disputed this analysis.

He said launching patent and design right litigation was increasingly seen as "business as usual" and was used to secure first mover advantage - a means to delay or prevent rivals bringing competing products to market.

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