Trade commission revives Kodak complaint against Apple, RIM

The U.S. ITC will reconsider an earlier decision that found Apple and RIM didn't infringe Kodak patents

Apple received good and bad news from the U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday.

Late in the day, in a blow to Apple, the commission said it has decided to review an earlier decision that found that Apple and Research In Motion did not infringe Kodak patents in their smartphones. The initial decision, which is the ITC's first step after it decides to investigate a complaint, was issued in January by an administrative law judge.

The commission will now review that decision and may rule that Apple and RIM do infringe the relevant patents. If the commission does decide that they infringe, it can order RIM and Apple to stop importing the relevant products, which would include the iPhone, into the U.S.

Earlier this week, Kodak's CEO was quoted as saying that if his company won this battle, it would expect to earn US$1 billion in royalty revenue from Apple and RIM. It is not clear over what timeframe Kodak expects to bring in that revenue.

Separately on Friday, an ITC judge said Apple does not infringe on five Nokia patents.

Nokia had charged Apple with infringing its patents in devices including mobile phones, music players and computers.

The decision isn't the end of the road for this dispute. The rest of the ITC panel now has the opportunity to review the initial decision. They can take a variety of actions, including modifying the decision.

Apple has separately asked the ITC to investigate Nokia, also charging patent infringement.

While Nokia is still the number-one phone maker in the world and has a deep patent portfolio, Apple has managed to put its iPhone in the spotlight among smartphones. The legal arguments between the companies highlight their battle for share of the market and consumers' minds.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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