Kodak patent case against Apple, RIM sent back to judge

The U.S. International Trade Commission now plans to have a ruling by end August

A ruling on Eastman Kodak's patent case against Apple and Research In Motion may be delayed until August after the U.S. International Trade Commission sent the issue back to a judge who had earlier ruled against Kodak.

The patent at issue relates to camera-phone image previews.

The ITC said on Thursday it had decided to "affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand in part," the final initial determination issued by the presiding administrative law judge on Jan. 24. In the initial determination, the judge had said that Kodak's patent claim against Apple and RIM, concerning camera-phone image previews, was invalid.

The ITC said that it modified some of the judge's claim constructions, and as a result the judge and respondents should have the opportunity to "revisit invalidity".

The suit, which aims to block Apple and RIM from importing iPhone and BlackBerry phones, was filed by Kodak in January last year. It alleges that Apple and RIM infringed its patents with a feature that allows image previews on their phones. The ITC agreed to investigate the claim in February last year.

On March 25 this year, ITC decided to review the initial determination by the administrative law judge in its entirety. The target date of the investigation was postponed from May 23 to June 23, and later to June 30. The new target date for a decision on the issue is Aug. 30.

Kodak said on Thursday that it was "gratified that the Commission has decided to modify in our favor the judge's initial recommendation". The company said it also has federal court actions pending against RIM and Apple in the Northern District of Texas and in the Western District of New York, where the same issue and additional infringement claims will be adjudicated. Kodak is proceeding with these actions, with the Texas case scheduled to begin on Aug. 1.

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