Kodak Prevails on Non-Infringement Defense

Eastman Kodak Co. has prevailed in its defense of a competitor’s accusations of infringement involving the company’s digital-image technology. A day after denying the company’s motion for summary judgment on inequitable conduct, the Delaware court issued an opinion granting Kodak’s similar motion on non-infringment.

Ampex brought the infringement claim against Kodak seeking to protect its patented video and image processing technology. See U.S. Patent No. 4,821,121. The Court found that because Kodak’s products altered the image data after capture, regardless of whether the image returned to its original state upon storage, the technology could not literally infringe the ‘121 patent’s claims that required complete identity of pixel value at all stages of transmission and storage.

Moreover, because the patentee added the identity requirement in response to the examiner’s initial doubts regarding indefiniteness, the Court held that a presumption of prosecution history estoppel applied. Because Ampex failed to rebut this presumption, there could be no infringement under the doctrine of equivalents.

The question now becomes: Will the Court ever reach the issue of validity, as did another Delaware judge facing a similar procedural posture?

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