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ITC throws out Kodak lawsuit against Apple, RIM ahead of patent auction

Kodak lost its fight against Apple and Research in Motion Friday when the US International Trade Commission dismissed [PDF] the digital camera company's patent lawsuit.

Kodak argued that certain BlackBerry devices and older versions of the iPhone infringed on its patent for an "electronic camera for initiating capture of still images while previewing motion images."

But the full International Trade Commission found that the image-previewing patent was invalid. That came several months after an administrative law judge (also at the ITC) reached the same conclusion; Friday's decision from the full commission affirmed that decision.

Kodak has vowed to appeal, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. The bigger concern, however, is how the ITC's ruling might affect Kodak's upcoming patent auction, the Journal said, though the ITC case only affects one of two patent portfolios up for auction.

Earlier this month, a New York Bankruptcy Court approved Kodak's auction of 1,100 patents that Apple and Kodak claim to own. Interested buyers can submit confidential bids for the auction, which will include 700 patents related to digital camera LCD viewfinders, and another 400 covering image capture and manipulation and network-based services.

As noted by patent blogger Florian Mueller, "Apple is now in a strong position. So far it has only incurred legal fees, and if the Kodak bankruptcy estate wanted to settle now, Apple would probably pay only a very limited amount in order to avoid litigation over other patents and the uncertainties that come with an appeal," he wrote in a blog post.

Kodak has been in court since 2010, when the company sued Apple and RIM for patent infringement.