Kodak Sues Sony Over Digicams

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Eastman Kodak filed suit against Sony and several of its subsidiaries this week, 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 says Sony has been aware of some of its alleged violations since July 2001.

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

Point and Shoot

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 estimates.

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. Kodak was forced out of that market by court decisions, and in 1991 a judge finalized an $873 million award to Polaroid for royalties, lost profits, and interest.

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