Mixed verdict in patent ruling probably bad news for Kodak
After a federal ruling Thursday afternoon, the ultimate fate of Kodak's high-stakes patent dispute with smartphone makers Apple and Research in Motion won't be known for another two months. But analysts say Thursday's determination by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in Washington appears to be bad news for the struggling photo giant.
Kodak's patent claim alleges that iPhones and BlackBerrys unlawfully use image-preview technology that Kodak patented in 2001.
On Thursday, the ITC couldn't definitively say one way or the other if that was indeed the case.
The mixed verdict reversed parts of an earlier ruling, upheld others and pushed back the deadline for a definitive ruling until the end of August.
But in the immediate aftermath of the commission's decision, several analysts, including George Conboy of Brighton Securities, said it's unlikely Kodak will win a major settlement.
"The only silver lining from this is that Kodak can still have some hope that there'll be some kind of financial benefit," said Conboy. "But at this point, those two 'somes' - some hope of some financial benefit - don't amount to a lot for Kodak's future."
Conboy says the best case scenario for Kodak is now a far cry from earlier expectations. Software patent expert Florian Mueller agrees, blogging last night that Kodak now faces an "uphill battle."
CEO Antonio Perez had estimated that a ruling in Kodak's favor could net the company up to $1 billion in licensing fees from the two smartphone makers.
In a statement released late last night, Kodak says it remains "extremely confident this case will ultimately conclude in Kodak's favor."
The market appears to be betting otherwise: Kodak shares plunged after Thursday's ruling.