Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is appealing a bankruptcy judge’s ruling in favor of Eastman Kodak Co. that blocked the iPhone maker’s claims to two patents.
Apple said in a court filing Wednesday that it is challenging U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper’s decision that gave Kodak a partial victory in a lawsuit over ownership of 10 patents.
The assets are among more than 1,000 patents that Kodak put up for sale as part of its bankruptcy restructuring. The Rochester, New York-based company sued Apple after Apple asserted claims to the patents.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Kodak said it wants to sell its document imaging and personalized imaging businesses to better focus on printing and business services as it tries to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The company said the sale of the units, along with cost-cutting measures and the auction of its patent portfolio, will help it emerge from bankruptcy sometime in 2013.
Kodak’s document imaging division makes scanners and offers related software and services. The personalized imaging business includes photo paper and still camera film products. It also offers souvenir photo products at theme parks and other venues.
Antonio Perez, Kodak’s chairman and CEO, said the planned sale is “an important step in our company’s reorganization to focus our business on the commercial markets.”
The storied photography pioneer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January. It has kept operating while it tries to sell its digital imaging patents. So far, it has not found buyers.
Kodak was founded in 1880. Kodak introduced the iconic Brownie camera in 1900. Selling for $1 and using film that cost just 15 cents a roll, it made hobby photography affordable for many people. Its Kodachrome film, introduced in 1935, became the first commercially successful amateur color film.
Kodak’s work force peaked in 1988 at nearly 150,000 employees. But the company couldn’t keep up with the shift from digital photo technology over the past decade and with competition from Japanese companies such as Canon.
It said earlier this year that it would stop making digital cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames as it tries to reshape its business.
In the patent dispute, Gropper ruled in favor of Kodak on two of the patents, saying Apple waited too long to assert its claims. The judge denied Kodak’s request for a pretrial ruling known as summary judgment on the eight other patents and said Kodak could renew its request.
“Apple believes a prompt appeal of this order is necessary in view of the prospect that Kodak will seek to sell the patents at issue free and clear of Apple’s interests prior to full adjudication of Apple’s appeal,” Apple attorney Brian Lennon wrote in a letter yesterday to Gropper.
Stefanie Goodsell, a Kodak spokeswoman, didn’t immediately comment about the appeal. Kodak said today in a statement that it hasn’t made a decision about selling the digital-imaging patents and may keep the portfolio.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, said the U.S. District Court in Manhattan may not allow its appeal to proceed at this stage or may ask for arguments on the issue.
The lawsuit is Eastman Kodak Co. v. Apple Inc., 12-01720, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).