Kodak sues Sony for digital imaging patent infringement

The Eastman Kodak Co. filed suit Monday against Sony Corp. and several of its subsidiaries, charging Sony with violating Kodak patents on digital and video camera technologies.

Kodak's concise complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for New York's Western District, ticks off 10 patents, issued from 1987 to 2003, that it accuses Sony of infringing in its electronic products. Kodak is seeking injunctions against further infringement and unspecified damages, according to its court papers. The company said Sony has been aware of some of its alleged violations since July 2001.

In a prepared statement, Sony said it has not violated any Kodak digital-imaging patents, and will "vigorously defend" itself against the charges.

Rochester, New York-based Kodak ranked second, behind Sony, in U.S. point-and-shoot digital camera sales last year, according to research firm IDC. Kodak, however, showed faster growth, increasing its unit shipments from 1.4 million in 2002 to 2.9 million in 2003. Sony, which shipped 3.6 million units last year, controls a 21.7 percent share of the market, IDC estimated.

Kodak is accusing Tokyo-based Sony of violating patents related to digital storage, image previewing and selecting images for printing on a separate device, among others.

Kodak's most famous role in a patent case is as defendant. It spent the 1980s embroiled in a patent dispute over instant photography technology with Polaroid Corp. Kodak was forced out of that market by court decisions, and in 1991 a judge finalized an US$873 million award to Polaroid for royalties, lost profits and interest.

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Stacy Cowley

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