China Lucky Film ordered to sell patents

A Los Angeles Superior Court ordered China Lucky Film to liquidate its ownership interests in intellectual property — including two brand new patents — to pay off a multi-million dollar judgment.

That’s according to Royal Marketing, the company to whom those millions are owed.

At issue: “Negligent misrepresentation, breach of warranty and breach of the implied covenant of good faith.” Royal Marketing says it had been in business 25 years as one of Konica Minolta’s “largest and most successful independent distributors of its photo imaging products.” It catered to the cruise line industry among others. Then it switched suppliers, and “our deal with China Lucky killed our business,” Royal says. “First they refused to sell us one of the products set forth in the agreement that they signed. Then we found out later – after having purchased and re-sold in the United States several hundreds of thousands of dollars of the photo paper they manufactured – that their paper was not appropriate for sale in the U.S.”

Now the Los Angeles Superior Court has ordered the immediate transfer of China Lucky’s intellectual properties to a court appointed Receiver for liquidation to satisfy a nearly three-million dollar judgment the company has failed to pay for more than four years. The patents to be auctioned are for “double sided photographic paper” and “the back sheet for solar cell and method of manufacturing the same.”

Kodak app finds film

Kodak developed an iOS app for finding retail locations stocking its professional film.

“Through this app you can learn about our color negative and black and white films. Discover the characteristics of each film and what formats they are available in,” the company says. “Will you be photographing outside or in a studio? This app will recommend the best film for what you are photographing. Once you know what film you want to shoot you can find out where to purchase film, and even where you can have the film developed.”

The app is intended as  a professional shooter’s  “companion when you are traveling,” Kodak adds. “It can tell you where to buy and process film around the world.”

The app is here.

Resurgence in film use triggers processing service

“Photographers are returning to film in large numbers,” claims Photosmith Imaging, “Believe it or not.”

Since those large numbers aren’t quantified, we’ll be a little dubious — but at least this one photo lab is seeing large enough figures to offer a new online-based processing service,

“People frustrated with the impersonality and blandness of digital images have remembered what drew them to photography in the first place, personal control of expression and quality,” says the Dover, NH-based lab.

Noting that many local photo labs gone out of business, the company says these film photographers must look out of town for processing — and online. To meet these needs, the company launched its website, offering film developing by mail to Internet customers.

“It’s the best of the old and of the new,” says Steve Frank, owner of Photosmith Imaging for thirty years. “We are offering personalized service on a broader scale. And since the Internet lets us take our business nation-wide, we’re able to offer very competitive prices for film processing.”

The company aims to also create a community of people interested in photography—what the Main Street photo lab used to be. “We cater to people on a personal basis, the same as if you come in to our brick-and-mortar operation,” Frank says. On its Facebook page, photographers can meet each other and share images; there will also be a monthly contest for free processing.

Why shoot film, when digital is easier and cheaper? The company quotes customer Mark Stevens saying he appreciates the careful craft of film photography. “I’ll never stop shooting film. I love the process. It forces me to slow down and study the composition and light in each frame. I find it very relaxing to get back to the basics of photography, and it’s great to have 120processing to do the developing.”

For more on the many (re)turning to film — and debate whether it’s a retro or hipster craze — see CNet’s feature here.


Washington State hard-plumbed silver-recovery letter

Earlier this year, the hazardous waste inspectors from the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) visited photo processors to conduct hazardous waste compliance inspections. The findings of the inspections were explained in letters to the facilities. A common issue raised was DOE rules on counting silver-rich solutions.

Letters were sent to facilities if the silver-rich solutions were not conveyed (hard-plumbed) directly from the processor to the silver recovery unit (SRU). In other words, if the silver-rich solutions were hand-carried or otherwise transferred to the SRU, then the facility did not qualify for the counting exemption and was considered to be in violation of DOE rules.

DOE rules, as outlined in their publication, “A Guide to Photo Processors” (, require hazardous waste that is hazardous only because it contains more than 5 parts per million of silver to be directly conveyed from the processor to the SRU with “hard pipes.” If not hard-plumbed, it must be counted toward the generator category of the facility. It does not matter if the waste jug is carried 3 feet or 300 feet from the SRU; if it is not direct- or hard-plumbed, it does not qualify for the exemption.

This statement was in direct opposition to a 1999 letter from Elizabeth Cotsworth of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Silver Council. Cotsworth’s letter explains in the opinion of the EPA, it is not necessary for the generator to install direct piping connections between the waste-generation process and the recycling unit to meet the conditions of not counting a material as a hazardous waste under the provisions of 40 CFR 261.5 c (3). The EPA letter does contain caveats indicating the material must be transferred immediately to the silver recovery unit, but it does not define “immediate.” It does state if the material is not transferred immediately, it needs to be counted as a hazardous waste and that volume of waste will apply to the generator status of the facility.

Working through involved parties, a copy of the Cotsworth letter was provided to the Washington State DOE, and an opinion was requested as to the applicability of the letter to the DOE direct-plumb rule.

The DOE opinion was received, and it resulted in a favorable interpretation for the photo processing industry on the hard-plumbing issue. The DOE letter advises if the material in question is directly transferred to the SRU, it does not have to count toward the facility generator status. As with the Cotsworth letter, it does not define “immediate,” but it does state there cannot be “accumulation prior to recycling.” It closes with a reminder that delegated state programs do have the authority to issue rules more stringent than federal rules.

The bottom line for photo labs doing on-site silver-recovery activities in the state of Washington is: a lab should hard plumb the silver-rich solution directly to the silver recovery unit to make life simple for the facility. If that is not feasible, then the waste in question must be transferred directly to the SRU so the silver-rich solution is not considered to have been put in storage. If the waste is put in storage, it becomes a countable waste.

As always, to document compliance, develop a tracking system recording the volume of waste generated by the processor and the date it was transferred to the SRU. This will allow the facility to document that the waste is transferred directly from the waste jug to the SRU and is not accumulated prior to recycling.

A copy of the DOE letter is available by contacting the PMA Regulatory Activities office at