Microsoft and Canon cross-license patents

Canon logoMicrosoft and Canon say their “broad patent cross-licensing agreement” shows a “collaborative approach …to deliver inventive technologies that benefit consumers around the world.”

The agreement covers “a broad range of products and services each company offers, including certain digital imaging and mobile consumer products.”

Microsoft adds that since it launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, “the company has entered into more than 1,100 licensing agreements.”

The full announcement is here.

Must read: The Lowballing of Kodak’s Patent Portfolio

kodak swirlWhat happened when Kodak tried to sell imaging patents for $4.5 billion? “The bankrupt giant found that its huge trove of IP could fetch only pennies on the dollar,” reports the IEEE’s Spectrum.

“In January 2012, Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, having succumbed to a digital revolution in photography that it had helped to start, Spectrum says. “But the company’s managers still hoped to escape from bankruptcy and have another shot at greatness by selling part of a portfolio of patents that experts valued as high as US $4.5 billion. Eleven months later, those roughly 1700 patents (together with 655 patent applications) sold for just $94 million—less than the licensing fees Kodak had collected in its worst-ever year in recent history.”

Here’s the full story — highly recommended.


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.”

Rivals Apple, Google, Samsung, may ally to acquire Kodak patents

KodakThe Wall Street Journal reports Apple, Samsung and Google may form a consortium to bid on Kodak’s portfolio of more than 1,000 digital imaging patents.

The bid is lower than the > $2 billion Kodak desires — and so new reports arise that the company may not sell the coveted assets after all, the WSJ adds.

Kodak announced is has not “reached a determination or agreement to sell the digital imaging patent portfolio, and may retain all or parts of it as a source of creditor recoveries in lieu of a sale if it concludes that doing so is in the best interests of the estate.”

Others in the consortium may include HTC and LG Electronics, as well as patent firms Intellectual Ventures Management LLC, and RPX Corp.



Apple patents mobile imaging auto-focus, exposure metering

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded two imaging patents to Apple, dealing with auto-focus and dynamic exposure metering.

Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,233,789 for “Dynamic exposure metering based on face detection” describes a system and method of automatically changing a digital camera’s exposure settings based on a subject’s face, reports AppleInsider. U.S. Patent No. 8,233,078 for “Auto focus speed enhancement using object recognition and resolution” uses similar object-detection software to hasten focus speed. Both patents rely on face or object-recognition.

The ‘789 patent was applied for in April 2010.

More information is here.

Kodak digital imaging patent auction approved

Kodak reports it obtained approval from the Bankruptcy Court to conduct an auction to sell its Digital Capture and Kodak Imaging Systems and Services patent portfolios.

Kodak’s motion had been contested by Apple and FlashPoint Technologies, which asserted “ownership” interests in a small number of the 1,100 patents in the portfolios.

The Bankruptcy Court, over Apple and Flashpoint’s objections, found that all of the patents in the Digital Capture and KISS patent portfolios are property of Kodak’s estate, the company says. The Court granted Kodak the right to sell these patents free and clear of Apple and FlashPoint’s claims at the auction, subject to the applicable provisions of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Even if the dispute with Apple and FlashPoint has not been fully resolved by the time of closing of the patent sale, Kodak may still sell the patents free and clear of Apple and FlashPoint’s claims by establishing “adequate protection” under the Bankruptcy Code for Apple and Flashpoint at the time of sale.

Kodak files to sell imaging patents

Kodak filed to sell off its imaging patents. The motion seeks “approval of bidding procedures for the prompt bankruptcy auction of its Digital Capture and Kodak Imaging Systems and Services Patent Portfolios, comprising more than 1,100 patents that are integral to the capture, manipulation, and sharing of digital images,” the company says.

Kodak says its motion outlines a sale process that is open to all qualified bidders subject to the rules of the bidding procedures. No disclosure of the unsuccessful bidders will be made to other bidders or the public. Only the winning bidder and the amount of the successful bid will be announced publicly at the end of the auction. “The bidding procedures are designed to allow bidders to give us their best offers without fear of showing their cards to competitors. In filing these proposed procedures in advance of the June 30 deadline in our lending agreement, we are moving ahead as quickly as possible with the process of monetizing our digital imaging patent portfolio.”

Over the past 12 months, 20 parties have signed confidentiality agreements and have been provided access to an electronic data room.

The two portfolios “have different characteristics and may interest different buyers.” The Digital Capture Portfolio includes over 700 patents, covering key aspects of image capture, processing, and transmission technologies that are crucial to the design and operation of digital cameras and multi-function devices, including camera-enabled smartphones and tablets, the company says. The KISS Portfolio includes over 400 patents that cover technologies including image analysis, manipulation and tagging, and network-based services, including image storage, access, and fulfillment.

Since 2001, Kodak has generated more than $3 billion from licensing its digital imaging portfolio to industry leaders, including Samsung, LG, Motorola, and Nokia, and is currently pursuing patent litigation against infringers that include Apple, RIM, and HTC.

More information is here.


Nokia to sue over patents

Saying it will protect its innovations and intellectual property, Nokia is commencing patent litigation in the U.S. and Germany against U.S.-based Viewsonic, HTC of Taiwan, and Research in Motion of Canada.

The company says it already licenses the 45 patents in question to more than 40 companies. “Though we’d prefer to avoid litigation, Nokia had to file these actions to end the unauthorized use of our proprietary innovations and technologies, which have not been widely licensed.”

Nokia’s actions include a complaint to the US International Trade Commission (ITC) against HTC, suits against HTC and Viewsonic in the Federal District Court of Delaware, US, against HTC and RIM in the Regional Court in Dusseldorf, Germany, and against all three companies in the Regional Courts in Mannheim and Munich, Germany.

Nokia says the patents cover dual function antennas, power management and multimode radios, application stores, multitasking, navigation, conversational message display, dynamic menus, data encryption, and retrieval of email attachments on a mobile device.

Also: Nokia posted a $1.2 billion net loss for first quarter of 2012.


Kodak, Apple continue patent litigation

KodakUpdate March 8: Kodak’s request was granted. Apple’s bid to file a complaint with the international Trade Commission  was denied.

From March 7: Kodak asked a bankruptcy judge to block Apple from restarting patent litigation that would interfere with Kodak’s planned sale of up to $2.6 billion of digital-imaging patents, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Kodak filed for bankruptcy in January, which halted pending patent-infringement suits brought by Apple and other companies. In February, Apple asserted Kodak’s planned patent-portfolio sale would include disputed IP regarding cameras previewing images on an LCD screen.

“Apple’s claim that it owns the ‘218 patent (and potentially other undisclosed Kodak patents)–a claim plainly designed to interfere with the Debtors’ efforts to sell valuable property of the estate–should be resolved promptly,” Kodak said in its filing.

The full article is here.

WiFi card standard impinges Eye-Fi IP?

The SD Association recently added “Wireless LAN SD” to its standards — and now Eye-Fi, the company that developed and markets the eponymous WiFi-transmitting SD card, alleges the standard infringes its intellectual property.

SD Association says its standard “can transform millions of everyday consumer electronics into wireless LAN devices with portable storage and communications… Consumers will be able to transfer pictures,  videos and other content wirelessly from most existing digital cameras and digital video  cameras to web-based cloud services and between SD devices over home networks.”

Of course, that also sounds like a description of the products Eye-Fi has been marketing for years. And the company responded to the SDA’s announcement by stating in no uncertain terms “essential Eye-Fi patented technology would be violated by anyone implementing this draft specification.”

In a post on the company’s blog page, Eye-Fi CEO Yuval Koren writes, “Several years ago, Eye-Fi’s founding team realized that capturing photos or video is just the beginning, and that in an increasingly connected world, the true magic is in sharing,” Koren says. “We invested tens of millions of dollars and several years to create unique technology that lets people wirelessly transfer photos and videos directly from their camera and mobile devices.”

Furthermore, Koren states the SD Association’s announcement portrayed the draft Wireless LAN specification as an adopted new standard — which is “a flat out misrepresentation. As a matter of fact, under the SDA’s own rules, this was not possible. SDA members — and we are one — are allowed 60 days in which to respond with claims to patented intellectual property and plans around licensing that IP to the SDA. Should essential IP be presented during this process, and not offered for license, the SDA should revise the specification and begin the review cycle again. After this process, the SDA Executive Members have to vote on adopting the specification. Not only has the membership’s intellectual property disclosure window not closed, the Executive Members have also yet to vote on its adoption.”

Eye-Fi says it has disclosed its intellectual property to the SDA, “detailing multiple patents essential to the current SDA draft specification.”