Eastman Kodak Company is suing Apple and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) for infringement of its imaging technology by the two giants in digital cameras in their iPhone and BlackBerry devices.
In a lawsuit filed with the US International Trade Commission (ITC), Kodak claims that digital cameras in Apple's iPhones and RIM's BlackBerry devices infringe its patent that covers technology related to previewing images.
Laura G. Quatela, vice president of Eastman Kodak Company, said Thursday they "had discussions for years with both companies in an attempt to resolve this issue amicably, and we have not been able to reach a satisfactory agreement.
"In light of that, we are taking this action to ensure that we protect the interests of our shareholders and the existing licensees of our technology.''
Urging the trade commission to bar Apple and RIM from shipping infringing devices, including mobile phones and wireless communication devices featuring digital cameras, Quatela said, "Our primary interest is not to disrupt the availability of any product but to obtain fair compensation for the use of our technology.
"There is a basic issue of fairness that needs to be addressed. Those devices use Kodak technology, and we are merely seeking compensation for the use of our technology in their products."
Kodak also filed two separate suits against Apple Thursday for alleged infringement of its patents related to digital cameras and certain computer processes.
In the first lawsuit, Kodak alleges infringement of two patents related image preview and the processing of images at different resolutions.
In the second suit, it alleges infringement of patents that describe a method by which a computer programme can 'ask for help' from another application to carry out certain computer-oriented functions. The infringement allegations apply to any Apple product that uses the processing method described above.
"We remain open to negotiating a fair and amicable agreement with both Apple and RIM, which has always been our preference and our practice with other licensees,'' said Quatela who is also chief intellectual property officer of Kodak.
"We seek to avoid litigation in our licensing programmes whenever possible. But when the infringement is persistent, we will act to defend the interests of our shareholders and licensees, and to promote the fair compensation that is the bedrock of innovation.''
Based at Rochester in New York State, Kodak invented the first digital camera in 1975 and claims to have more than 1,000 digital imaging patents.
The photographic and optical equipment maker employees more than 20,000 people worldwide.