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ITC agrees to investigate Apple's patent suit against Kodak


Originally sued by Kodak and accused of violating imaging patents owned by the company, Apple's countersuit against the camera maker has been accepted by the U.S. International Trade Commission for review.

The ITC announced this week that Apple's complaint against Kodak, filed on April 15, will be investigated. Apple's complaint alleges that a number of Kodak cameras violate patents owned by Apple, including products from the Z, M and C series.

Specifically cited in Apple's suit are U.S. Patent No. 6,031,934 (entitled "Computer vision system for subject characterization"), and Patent No. RE38,911 (entitled "Modular digital image processing via an image processing chain with modifiable parameter controls"). Apple also filed a civil complaint in a U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, also alleging infringement of the two patents.

Apple's countersuit is in response to a complaint from Kodak, filed in January, which accused Apple's iPhone of infringing on a patent related to previewing images. Kodak filed one suit with the ITC, and one in a U.S. District Court in New York, and also named Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices as infringing.

The ITC announced in February that it would investigate Kodak's claims against Apple. The commission will decide whether to block the import and sale of products from both companies, including Apple's iPhone.

The ITC's decision comes as no surprise, as the commission usually agrees to look into complaints from major corporations.

The decision is the second ITC-related item regarding Apple this week alone. On Wednesday, Taiwanese handset maker HTC filed a suit with the U.S. commission asking for the importation of the iPhone, iPad and iPod into America to be halted due to the alleged violation of five patents. HTC's suit was filed in response to a suit from Apple in early March.

The ITC has been very busy with Apple lawsuits lately. Last year, Finnish handset maker Nokia sued Apple, and the iPhone maker later countersued, with both companies accusing the other of patent violations. The a lawsuit against Apple was also filed with the commission by Elan Microelectronics.