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ITC delays ruling on Kodak suit against Apple until Sept. 2012


With Eastman Kodak's cash reserves continuing to dwindle, the U.S. International Trade Commission has pushed back the expected date for a final decision on the company's patent infringement complaint against Apple from December of this year to September 2012.

An administrative judge for the commission has set a new target date of Sept. 21, 2012, the Associated Press reports. The delay is a significant setback for the photography pioneer as it struggles to return to profitability.

Kodak CEO Antonio Perez said earlier this year that the company is hoping for as much as $1 billion in royalty revenues. It received nearly as much from South Korean electronics giants Samsung and LG in a settlement over the same patent a few years ago.

But, with just $862 million in the bank as of Sept. 30, Kodak may not last until the ITC's final ruling if current losses continue. Without any new patent licensing boons, the company bled $222 million in the third quarter of 2011. Perez remains optimistic, however, estimating that Kodak will end the year with $1.4 billion in the bank.

Kodak first sued Apple in January 2010, alleging that the iPhone maker had infringed on image previewing patents. BlackBerry maker Research in Motion was also included in the complaint.

This January, a judge handed down an initial ruling absolving Apple and RIM and declaring the patent in question to be invalid. Then, in June, the commission upheld a portion of the ruling, while also sending some parts of the case back to the judge.

The company's case was thrown into uncertainty this summer when the judge presiding over the complaint retired. The nine-month extension will now provide the new judge with ample time to review arguments from RIM and Kodak, according to the AP's report.

Apple has filed its own countersuit against Kodak, but has had little luck with its complaint. The ITC ruled in July that Kodak had not infringed on Apple's digital imaging software patents.

Mounting losses have also led Kodak to consider selling off its digital imaging patents, including the one currently being used in its lawsuit against Apple and RIM. The company said in July it was looking for buyers to purchase the 1,100-patent collection. Kodak has said that a large number of companies have expressed interest in buying the patents.

One analyst valued the trove at $3 billion, more than 15 times the company's current market capitalization of $179.52 million. Skittish investors sold off Kodak stock on Monday, resulting in a nearly 20 percent drop in its value. Shares of the company are down 87 percent since the beginning of the year.