Eastman Kodak's patent claim against Apple and Research In Motion concerning camera-phone image previews is invalid, according to an initial determination by a U.S. International Trade Commission administrative law judge.
Kodak sued the companies last January, alleging they infringed its patents with a feature that allows image previews on Apple's iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry devices. In February, the ITC agreed to investigate the claim.
The final decision in the case, which will be made by the full ITC, is expected by May 23, Kodak said. The suit aims to stop Apple and RIM from importing the affected products.
Kodak put a positive spin on the ruling.
"The ALJ's recommendation in this case represents a preliminary step in a process that we are extremely confident will conclude in Kodak's favor," the company said in its press release. Kodak pointed out that another judge had upheld the patent claim in a separate suit against Samsung and LG Electronics. After that preliminary ruling, Kodak and Samsung agreed last January to a cross-licensing deal. Kodak also lists LG as a licensee of its imaging patents.
Kodak also said the ITC's Office of Unfair Import Investigations had agreed with its interpretation of the patent.
In a statement, RIM said, "RIM has shown that the only asserted claim of the Kodak patent is invalid." Apple officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
When it sued Apple and RIM last year, Kodak said it had been in discussions with both companies for years about the patent dispute.