Apple claims ownership of digital photography patents asserted by Kodak

“Apple has asked a bankruptcy court to block Kodak from obtaining loans using certain patents as collateral, arguing that it believes the disputed Kodak patents actually belong to Apple,” Daniel Eran Dilger reports for AppleInsider.

“According to a filing (PDF) submitted to the US Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York, Apple states that Kodak is seeking authority to ‘enter into a $950 million postpetition financing facility secured by security interests in and liens upon substantially all of Kodak’s assets, including certain patents that are subject to ongoing patent ownership and patent infringement disputes between Kodak and Apple,'” Dilger reports. “In the filing, Apple notes that the dispute involves ‘pioneering work on digital camera and imaging technology and related hardware, software, and user and communication interfaces’ dating back to the early 1990s, when Apple partnered with Kodak ‘to explore how the two companies could work together on various projects including commercialization of Apple’s digital cameras.'”

Dilger reports, “Apple states that ‘through this collaboration, Apple disclosed the architecture for its confidential digital camera technology to Kodak subject to various non-disclosure agreements, which also provided that any improvements Kodak made to Apple’s disclosures remain the property of Apple.’ The company also notes that Kodak was ‘was the leader in film-based cameras at the time.’ In 1994, Apple released the $749 QuickTake 100, which Time profiled last year as ‘the first consumer digital camera’ and ranking among its ‘100 greatest and most influential gadgets from 1923 to the present.'”

Much more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Rainy Day” for the heads up.]


    1. Ah but if they block the interim financing needed for Kodak to remain solvent then thy will be in a much better bargaining position.

      I wondered when this was going to come up (Apple’s original research and technology disclosure to Kodak (partnership & cross licensing) in the early 90’s.
      Did Kodak think Apple forgot, or were they (Kodak) just desperate for a handout (err buyout) from Apple.

        1. Or, Kodak trying to take advantage of Apple.
          (if they are trying to sue apple with patents on tech that are in part or dependent on technology apple shared with them as a part of the cross licensing agreement)

  1. Ahh, when I first read about the Kodak lawsuit I was thinking back to Apple’s early entry into the digital camera field, and wondered about patents created back then. It would seem from this article that Apple’s position is even stronger than I thought.

    Funny enough, I bet they were all hardware patents since nobody did software patents back then.

  2. Another place Apple led — digital photography — we had a 100 where I worked — used it to take photos of tools and products for our production processes and kept pictures in a Filemaker database (another Apple company).

  3. Hmmmm

    Perhaps they should buy Kodak, and troubled Olympic’s camera division. With Zuiko optics and Apple’s product engineering, they could produce a world class camera line.

    1. Only a fool like me would buy a company closely connected to the Japanese underworld, with a completely xenophobic attitude to foreign directors. They got rid of their new British CEO because he discovered the awful truth.

      Anyway, why would the brand name of Olympus be better than Apple?

  4. I used to receive new and experimental films from Kodak, to test and review. One day, around 1990 perhaps, I was on the phone with their chief engineer, and I asked him what the company was doing to prepare for the coming digital tsunami. He told me Kodak execs were ignoring it, hoping digital would never be a big deal, or at least there would be time to look into it later. That’s crazy, I said. He agreed and said he’d been trying to convince them to start working on it.

  5. Apple marketed a Fuji camera, not an own product. With a fileformat no-one used ever after. Not even Apple. I still have about 5000 pictures that I cannot access anymore. Well, ‘forever’ in a digital world means actually 5 years at the most

    1. not that I’m questioning your facts, but I am…

      Personally, I worked at apple when the quicktakes were introduced and I don’t recall a Fuji tie in. Nor do I remember Fuji having a similar product. I could be wrong though given the elapsed time.

      However, maybe Apple outsourced the production of its design to Fuji. In that sense, we could just as easily say that Apple is currently selling branded Samsung phones today. Or at least yesterday since they are slowing dropping all of samsungs products from the supply chain.

      1. Personally, I worked at apple when the quicktakes were introduced…

        I was at Kodak while the QuickTake models 100 and 150 were being designed and sold. The image format for the QuickTake 100 was PICT. The image formats for the QuickTake 150 were BMP, JPEG, PCX and TIFF. The only image format incompatibility problem was the PICT format of the QuickTake 100 being generally incompatible with other computer operating systems, (although there were apps around at that time that could translate PICT to other formats, including BMP).

        ‘Fuji’ was consistently the 4 letter ‘F-Word’ at Kodak. There was no possible way Kodak would have considered a collaboration with Fuji at that time in digital imaging. The only Kodak collaborations with Fuji I recall were related to film format standardization, as you might imagine. (Secret: Many Kodak employees liked the color of Fujichrome film and frequently used it for nature photography. Don’t tell Kodak).

        HOWEVER: Apple did collaborate with Fuji in 1996 on the QuickTake model 200, which was essentially the already existing Fuji DS-7 digital camera. The Fuji camera offered some new features that Kodak’s didn’t, including NTSC video and an SM card slot. The image formats supported by the Fuji camera were the same as those supported in the Kodak QuickTake 150, presumably due to Apple’s work on both projects. The only odd format on the 150 and 200 cameras was the now dead PCX format from ZSoft, who were not related to Fuji.

        Read about more it here:

        Apple QuickTake @ Wikipedia

  6. Coincidentally heard an interview replayed a few days ago from the former Kodak employee who headed up the digital camera department there. He specifically said that when he proposed the launch of the product which could have been done in a year or so he was told no way it would damage their film products. He and his team were effectively transferred to Apple to help them with the digital project that led to the first digital camera. He bemoaned Kodak’s lack of interest and vision and certainly gave the impression that all technology was at that point licensed for Apples use. Obviously a lot of this will be in the detail of those agreements but it is at best a desperate move on the part of Kodak to retrieve something of that (for them) disasterous decision.

    1. Marketing-As-Management
      The lecture:

      @spyinthesky: The specific reason for Kodak’s anti-digital tech behavior at that time was the fact that they had become a MARKETING company with Marketing-As-Management. I frequently rant about this nasty business problem, having lived through it myself while at Kodak. Oddly enough, Steve Jobs himself also experienced this problem after hiring John Sculley as Apple CEO from the predominantly marketing company Pepsi Cola.

      This is a bit long but should give you a good idea of the problem and why it exists:

      Marketing people tend to have what is called a Relational personality. They tend to base their personal reality around their relationships with other people. Anyone they encounter who is not relational is SHUNNED and UNDERMINED.

      A simple example would be the classic behavior of bad girls within a high school clique and all the nasty ramifications visited upon anyone who is contrary to the clique. IOW think of We The Geeks versus the Party Kids in school, the relentless bullying and self-esteem demolition emanating from the party kids. Think about our current cultural ostracism of kids interested in ‘geek’ professions, such as science and engineering. This is the worst of all personality clashes.

      Unlike any other personality group, relational people are VICIOUS to those people who have OTHER priorities within their personality. The WORST offenders to a relational personality are those with aProducer personality, those who focus upon creating, designing, making things and getting things done. Producers are task focused, where as Relational people are NOT.

      The nasty clash occurs when the Producer people want to get something ACCOMPLISHED whereas the Relational people only want to RELATE with one another. This production and productivity thing becomes a severe annoyance to relational people and they actively work to STOP the Producers using any means possible. In the case of business, this means stopping new things from being created, designed, manufactured and sold. Lord help you if you are a Producer having to work among Relational people. It’s a nightmare from hell.

      The irony of course is that the human race progresses and survives as a civilization SPECIFICALLY because of producers. Remove them, ostracize them, belittle them, stop them dead in their tracks, and the entire civilization system is tanked.

      If this sounds like our modern age in the USA, you are correct! No wonder political people are destroying the country. They’re nearly all Relational people. If this sounds like Steve Jobs versus John Sculley at Apple, you are correct. No wonder Apple’s creative incentive declined and fell as a result of Sculley’s management. Never let a relational person, a marketing person, manage anything except relational work such as marketing. The business consequences are deadly.

      This is the story of Kodak’s FAILure and demise. Kodak became predominantly a film marketing company. Therefore, Kodak’s decline and fall became manifest.

      [If anyone is interested in source information regarding this aspect of business organizational behavior research, please contact me: derekcurrie-at-mac-dot-com] 😎

  7. Where did this statement come from? ->

    The company also notes that Kodak was ‘was the leader in film-based cameras at the time.’ In 1994…

    This is actually WRONG. At that time Kodak was suffering from the fact that it is literally ABANDONED film-based cameras. I was involved with the R&D and marketing people attempting to get Kodak back into the development of new film-based camera. Kodak FAILED MISERABLY, having lost their technical knowledge with the early retirement of vast numbers of older employees. This was an enormous “OOPS” moment for Kodak that involved the loss of far more than camera technology.

    As a result of this enormous blunder, Kodak decided to buy Chinon, a camera designer and manufacturer. It was Chinon, as part of Kodak, who took over nearly all camera design and manufacturing.

    That Apple had to create and bring to Kodak ITS OWN camera technology was a necessity of this collaboration. Kodak had invented and manufactured the camera sensor technology, but that was nearly all it had to offer.

    We read over and over lately that ‘Kodak invented the first digital camera’. That is only partly correct. What Kodak created was the first camera sensor system, integrated into a CAMERA BACK, that then fit onto a PRE-EXISTING CAMERA FRONT. Kodak started with Nikon camera fronts and later added the choice of Canon camera fronts. Kodak started with large format camera backs, quickly followed by SLR camera backs.

    Kodak BOUGHT whole film cameras, back and front. Kodak then removed and tossed the camera back, added their own digital camera back, then RESOLD the resulting digital cameras to customers with the added Kodak camera back containing Kodak’s image sensor technology.

    IOW: I expect Apple’s assertions regarding Kodak having bogus claims to Apple camera technology patents is entirely valid and will be proven in court, as supported by what I have described above.

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