A US bankruptcy judge has stopped Apple from pursuing claims of patent infringement against Kodak, saying that allowing the action to continue would be 'inappropriate'.

Judge Allan Gropper, who is overseeing Kodak's application for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, said that Apple couldn't continue its case against Kodak or file a new patent infringement lawsuit relating to digital cameras and printers, Reuters reports.

Earlier this week Kodak lodged its opposition to restarting the case, with Apple wanting to move the litigation to a court in Manhattan for a jury trial.

But Judge Gropper said that the case needed to be resolved sooner rather than later in order to enable Kodak to sell its patent portfolio quickly and emerge from bankruptcy. Kodak needs to sell the patents by the end of June under the terms of a loan it has received in order to keep it afloat.

The dispute between Apple and Kodak relates to the ownership of certain patents covering digital cameras and images. Kodak brought a legal action against Apple in January claiming that Apple was infringing four of the patents.

Apple countered Kodak's claims saying that it was in fact the owner of the patents. Apple contends that back in the early 1990s, when the two companies worked together "to explore how the two companies could work together on various projects including commercialization of Apple’s digital cameras", it revealed a number of confidential digital camera technologies to Kodak.

At the time, Apple argued that Kodak had agreed to a non-disclosure agreement that also stated that any changes or developments that Kodak made to these technologies remained the property of Apple.

Apple's attourneys have also accused Kodak of using patent litigation as part of its strategy to stave off bankruptcy.