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Kodak Sues Apple & RIM Over Preview In Cameras

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the about-that-rent-we're-seeking dept.

GUI 285

Dave Knott writes "Kodak is suing Apple and Research In Motion over technology related to digital cameras in their iPhone and BlackBerry smart phones. The complaint specifically relates to photo preview functionality which Kodak claims infringes on their patents. The company is asking for unspecified monetary damages and a court order to end the disputed practices. Kodak has amassed more than 1,000 digital-imaging patents, and almost all of today's digital cameras rely on that technology. Kodak has licensed digital-imaging technology to about 30 companies, including mobile-device makers such as LG Electronics Inc., Motorola Inc., Nokia Corp. and Sony Ericsson, all of which pay royalties to Kodak."

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Apple = Lame. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769792)

Apple is a shit of a company. using others technology without paying (not just kodak but nokia too). if there were more companies like this less R&D would be done and we be further back in technological progress. not only this but apple SUCKS HARD at collaboration and is extremely secretive. Fuck apple.

Re:Apple = Lame. (2, Informative)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769818)

Yes. Apple has never raised the bar on anything and nothing progressive has ever come out of Cupertino. No wonder you posted AC.

Here is an idea (1, Insightful)

arcite (661011) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769800)

How about Apple use some of that pocket change they have laying around and do a little hostile takeover of Kodak. Then Steve Jobs can use their ancient camaras as target practice with his iSlate gesture controlled laser mounted sharks?

Boo yeah! (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769850)

Yeah, poor old innocent apple would never use stupid lawsuits [wikipedia.org] against their competitors!

Re:Here is an idea (2, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769886)

How about Apple use some of that pocket change they have laying around and do a little hostile takeover of Kodak.

Do you really want Apple to own a patent on photo previewing, and a thousand others? I'm sure they'll be kind and let RIM and Samsung and HTC and Motorola use those technologies at a very reasonable cost. Be careful what you ask for.

By any other name, GREED smells the same !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770270)

It smells like MONEY !! Go Get Em Kodak !!

Re:Here is an idea (4, Funny)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769930)

Sorry, but you have it wrong. Apple is always an innovator.

The iSlate is going to have shark-mounted lasers.

Re:Here is an idea (5, Insightful)

mejogid (1575619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769960)

God forbid that a company that helped pioneer photography for the last hundred or so years be paid for doing so. These are real patents designed to incentivise R&D and prevent competitors cashing in on another company's research. Judging by the number of companies paying them they're not without merit - why should Apple be exempt?

Re:Here is an idea (4, Funny)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770052)

Because Apple is special, haven't you heard? Not only in this case of course, it applies always - for example regarding Nokia wireless patents.

Re:Here is an idea (3, Insightful)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770178)

Funny how Nokia waited until the iPhone was a raging success before doing anything about those patents, isn't it?

Regardless of the nature of the situation, some of these patent claims (from all sorts of sources, not just this one) are absurd - I think it peaked with the "one click shopping" patent.

The whole system is just abused.

If Apple and RIM are in violation of this patent they will no doubt pay up. The cost of challenging is more than simply ponying up the cash.

Re:Here is an idea (4, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770220)

That's simply false, Nokia tried to negotiate with Apple for quite a while. Plus, in the scale of Nokia, iPhone is very far from "raging success"...

Re:Here is an idea (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770262)

actually it sounds more like patent squatting. the idea of previewing a picture before taking it should not be patentable. The hardware/software to do so might, however, apple isnt using kodiak hardware.

Re:Here is an idea (3, Funny)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770498)

apple isnt using kodiak hardware.

Well, no, they were wiped out by the Drago-Kazov, so very little of their hardware exists anymore.

Re:Here is an idea (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770462)

These are real patents designed to incentivise R&D

I can't believe this is a real word. I actually looked it up, and it actually exists.
What's wrong with "encourage"? Not HR approved?

Re:Here is an idea (4, Interesting)

Yamata no Orochi (1626135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770494)

They mean different things, for starters. Are you complaining that words exist outside your vocabulary? Really?

Re:Here is an idea (2, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770514)

These are real patents designed to incentivise R&D and prevent competitors cashing in on another company's research.

Strip away the detailed descriptions of the prior art and claim 1 covers having a button to take a photo while seeing a live preview. That's not a "real patent designed to incentivise R&D", that's patenting a feature.

Get off my lawn kid! (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770798)

"Judging by the number of companies paying them they're not without merit - why should Apple be exempt?"

He never said Apple was or should be "exempt". He suggested it might be a better deal for Apple to buy the whole company and reap the associated profits. You are so busy being anti-pro-Apple accusing someone of being pro-Apple, you didn't stop to read what was wrote and think about it apparently. That's OK. Judging by your 7 digit SlashID, you're young. You'll learn ...

Kodak could be easily taken over: the numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770026)

Well I'll be! I was researching some facts to karma slut (I'm an AC so karma doesn't matter) and I found that the market cap of Kodak is 1.36 Billion! [marketwatch.com] and Apple has over 5 billion in cash.

I didn't realize that Kodak was sucking wind so much. They used to be such a power house.

Looking at Kodak, it just might be a decent hostile takeover target - look at its cash balance Over 2 billion [yahoo.com] !

Re:Kodak could be easily taken over: the numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770430)

Kodak was late to make the transition from film cameras, film, and processing chemicals and machines to digital cameras and associated technology. These days Kodak is increasingly irrelevant.

Re:Kodak could be easily taken over: the numbers (1)

Yamata no Orochi (1626135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770538)

Actually, I'd argue that Kodak has some of the most popular digital photography devices (taking AND printing) in the more casual (read: Less researched) side of the market, but I don't have the numbers to back that up; I'm operating exclusively on my experience in the field of selling and operating such equipment.

Obvious (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769802)

Obvious patent is obviously invalid.

Re:Obvious (0)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769830)

How? If it's so obviously invalid, why are so many big corporations paying Kodak?

Re:Obvious (0, Redundant)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769896)

It's easier than possibly paying a lot to settle the issue maybe in your favor or maybe not.

Re:Obvious (0, Redundant)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769902)

Cheaper than litigating, probably.

Re:Obvious (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769954)

hey everybody! look!

it is Captain One-Sentence posting for our edification. take note and feel privileged to share this thread with such a prolific poster who still finds time to expound wisdom (in 5 word snippets) for our benefit.

Re:Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769908)

If it's so obviously invalid, why are so many big corporations paying Kodak?

You've obviously never been a big corporation served with a lawsuit for a patent violation by another big corporation.

Re:Obvious (0, Offtopic)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770116)

You've obviously never been a big corporation served with a lawsuit for a patent violation by another big corporation.

Not true! As a child, I was a big corporation, but I grew out of it.

Re:Obvious (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770164)

It has gotten to the point that the only way for you to keep your useless patents is to pay other people for their useless patents, that's why. Taking a picture and displaying it on the screen isn't really even related to photography after the lens processes the data, the system has already enumerated the data and formatted it as an image at that point, plotting data points representing color on a Cartesian plane was never revolutionary or clever it was the whole point from day one. Just because you display the image before committing it to long term storage does not make a patent. In the long run you can't blame Kodak because everyone has these patent junk bonds, it's like a gold rush every one knows they want it but in the long run it all gets taken away from you(see 1933). Eventually they will get to the point that because of one useless patent / troll they will have to give up their own, when that happens they will approach things differently but for now they do it because everyone else does it.

Re:Obvious (3, Insightful)

the_crowbar (149535) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769868)

Obvious was my first thought as well. How long have cameras had a "preview"? Let's see, the very first camera I can remember was a Polaroid with the instant pictures. That camera had a view finder that showed you what to expect to see in the final picture. Every film camera I have every used had a "preview." Why was this patent granted? Just because it is a digital camera does that negate the decades of prior art in film cameras?

Cheers,
the_crowbar

Re:Obvious (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769964)

I can see a major difference between this a few finder.
This will show a digital copy of the image in includes all the digital processing and sensor data. A viewfinder even in an SLR only shows what strikes the film. The chemistry of the film and how it is processed will have a huge effect on the actual picture. Yes I know that you do a lot of post processing with digital images but the original data is still delivered vs what happens with Film.
Add in all the big companies that are paying fees for this and I would bet this is probably a valid patent. And let's be honest Kodak isn't an IP shill company. They make a lot of stuff and do a lot of research.

Re:Obvious (3, Informative)

Vidar Leathershod (41663) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770244)

Kodak's "preview" patent says that you see all of the digital processing and sensor data? How do they manage that one on a tiny LCD? It's simply not the case that you get this with a digital preview. You see an approximation of what you will get. In fact, you see less than what you might using a viewfinder, especially if you are looking through a Minolta Alpha/Maxxum with Depth of Field preview.

Viewfinders, including ones that have a screen you view from a distance, have been around for a long time. In fact, maybe these people would like a few words with Kodak over their apparent patent:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/634635-USA/Rollei_66031_Hy6_Medium_Format_SLR.html [bhphotovideo.com]

That's called a "Waist-level" viewfinder, and they've been around for a long time (the first Rolleiflex DLR I can find reference to is from 1931). In short, I would like to see the full Patent application, and how Kodak represented the prior art and prior implementations of representing an image on a screen. The other thing I would like to see are the licensing agreements with the other companies. The article only mentions that the companies license patents regarding digital photography, and say nothing of licensing this particular patent. An unusual omission, in my opinion.

Re:Obvious (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770426)

I wouldn't dismiss this patent so fast. It could be the option to show you the picture and then give the option to keep it or delete it. I don't know how old this patent is but again we are talking about Kodak and the fact that many companies have already paid up. What I am seeing is the usual response from slashdot to every patent that it is obvious. While some patents are granted for things that are not just obvious but have been in use for years not every patent granted is bad.
And what we think is obvious may just be because it is currently in use or a case of a brilliant idea "that is so simple why didn't I think of that".

Re:Obvious (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770038)

"In general, patents can't generally patent a general idea."

-General Patent

Re:Obvious (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770520)

This evoked from me a hearty guffaw. Thanks, AC.

Re:Obvious (1, Insightful)

Synchis (191050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770096)

Kodak is not a company that is widely known for frivolous lawsuits. If I had to guess, I would say their lawyers likely know what they're doing.

Keep in mind:

Digital Cameras (including smartphones/cellphones) != Film Cameras.

Thus, no prior art.

Oh, and I love your example... a Polaroid camera... which just happens to be a Kodak product.

Re:Obvious (3, Informative)

klossner (733867) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770274)

Polaroid cameras were never Kodak products. Back in the day, Kodak and Polaroid were the two dominant players in the consumer point-and-shoot market. When Kodak introduced an instant-print camera, Polaroid used a patent lawsuit to shut down the whole product line.

Re:Obvious (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770288)

I'm wondering with a film camera, how you manage a preview???

Re:Obvious (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770384)

You look in the view finder and you see a preview of the picture the camera will take.

Re:Obvious (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770652)

Not if you've ever done any real photography.

The way the eye perceives light and the way the camera will capture it are two very different things.

Looking through the veiwfinder is to do just that- to "find the view". You can frame a picture with it, but if you don't have your camera set up correctly you can still get a over / under exposed image, color casts, etc. It's as much of a "preview" as a sketch of a painting is a preview of the painting.

Deserves them right (2, Interesting)

mrwolf007 (1116997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770028)

You mean Apples multi-touch patent?
Lets see, multi touch was used before that on touchpads.
Capactitive touchscreens existed prior to the patent.
But for some reason Apple get a patent to use multi touch on a touchscreen, thereby forcing other vendors to filter and ignore data delivered by the touch screen.
Not enforcable in Europe, beeing a pure software patent and i cant see how such a patent can be granted since its it actually places restrictions on the interpretation of data provided by a hardware device.

More like (1)

mrwolf007 (1116997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770422)

-1 Fanboi can not has truth
i guess

Re:More like (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770662)

I don't understand the aversion to software patents. Seems like, since software is even easier to copy, it is more deserving of protection.

I should clarify - I do understand the aversion, it comes from the whole "I want other people's work to be free" ethic that permeates this and other communities. I don't get why it's a valid principle may be what I should have said.

Re:Obvious (1)

Syberz (1170343) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770202)

I'm assuming that this is a pretty old patent, so what seems obvious now because it is mainstream wasn't obvious at all when it came out (before we had digital cameras for instance).

Being able to see your picture on a screen before pressing a button and taking it was a pretty innovative concept and that's why Kodak patented it. Kodak invented the concept, they didn't take something existing (like the breathing example another poster gave) and then patented it.

All the other phone makers licensed the tech, why shouldn't RIM and Apple?

Re:Obvious (3, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770356)

Displaying an image on a computer screen is in no way novel, nor has it been for decades. Just because there's a CCD hooked up to the computer doesn't make it any more novel. There was a Supreme Court ruling [arstechnica.com] a couple years ago on the obviousness test. In that decision Kennedy wrote "The results of ordinary innovation are not the subject of exclusive rights under the patent laws." This is an entirely ordinary innovation.

Re:Obvious (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770708)

Was it ordinary when it was done for the very first time? Just because it's obvious now, after becoming commonplace, doesn't mean it wasn't a big leap for the person who came up with it. I can assume that wasn't you, even if you could tell us a story about how you dreamed that your camera could do that at some point when you were 4 years old so it must totally be obvious and not worthy or patenting.

Who cares about the stock price? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769812)

Okay, the article has almost no information. All we know is that Kodak has asked that the offending devices not be shipped into the US. The other piece of information that we have is the stock prices of the three companies. WHY do these "reporter" insist on putting in a snapshot of the stock price at that moment in time? It has absolutely no value whatsoever yet they insist on putting it in. Totally meaningless and was one of the only factual items in the article. I hope I never understand business types....

Re:Who cares about the stock price? (1, Interesting)

spazdor (902907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769982)

Why is this modded troll? It's completely true - TFA provides no information at all about the patents in question, what "technology" they claim to cover, and inexplicably included some portfolio information which apparently has nothing to do with the patent claim. It is a terrible, pointless article.

Re:Who cares about the stock price? (1)

WinPimp2K (301497) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770282)

with apologies to your nick..
it appears we have a spazzed out moderator or more.
OP was not a troll, TFA was rather lacking in information that might be of concern to anyone other than possibly a daytrader (the change in stock price).

Of course, your complaint about the troll mod was nothing more than flamebait - if you were trying to flame a spazzed out moderator. I expect the metamods will correct the issue even if it slips by the mods.

Re:Who cares about the stock price? (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770394)

Well for what it's worth, i think your comment about the complaint about the troll mod is perfectly worthwhile. This response here, on the other hand, can be metametametamodded to oblivion for all I care. I'll just be over at tradingmarkets.com trying to find articles about kernel hacking.

Re:Who cares about the stock price? (1)

WinPimp2K (301497) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770070)

"snapshot" of the stock price.

I suspect that is pretty much part of the "bible" for writing a business article like that - if you mention a company doing something, then you have to mention the stock price so the business weenies reading it can nod sagely as they see how htis bit of business news has impacted the value of the company.

But how many patents can you get for "previewing" a picture anyways? And what does "previewing mean? - is it emulating a viewfinder, or is it deciding whether or not to "keep" the picture after you take it?

Viewfinders have been around long enough that any patents that might have been issued would have lapsed by now. Even "electronic" viewfinders based on CCD devices. Camcorders had a "viewfinder" that was a small display that was active regardless of whether or not you were recording to tape. And if "previewing" means deciding to keep the shot, well that is simply moving the contents of memory from one location to another - in this case from dynamic to static RAM. I'm pretty sure the MOV instruction has been around longer than digital photography. (or a "write" command if you want to get picky)

Re:Who cares about the stock price? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770436)

Okay, the article has almost no information. All we know is that Kodak has asked that the offending devices not be shipped into the US. The other piece of information that we have is the stock prices of the three companies. WHY do these "reporter" insist on putting in a snapshot of the stock price at that moment in time? It has absolutely no value whatsoever yet they insist on putting it in. Totally meaningless and was one of the only factual items in the article. I hope I never understand business types....

You do know that the reporter is probably not a "business type"? There are very few reporters who have a clue about business. The reporter probably included the stock prices because it was one of the few facts he/she had.

Is there a patent for breathing? (4, Funny)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769828)

Is there a patent for breathing, something like "A way to create a vacuum inside the human body in order to force external air inside the lungs, so oxygen can be transferred to the blood."

I'd love to patent it, then charge something like 0,0001$ per breathe per individual. At 12 breathes per minute * 6 billion humans, it's something like 36 000$ per hour.

What's great is that it would cost every human ONLY 52.56$ per year. Pretty reasonnable!

Re:Is there a patent for breathing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770120)

Is there a patent for breathing, something like "A way to create a vacuum inside the human body in order to force external air inside the lungs, so oxygen can be transferred to the blood."

Sure, go ahead and patent that.

However, in the body there is no vacuum, just a slight lowering of pressure compared to ambient pressure outside the body.

So breathing doesn't infringe on your patent. Hah!

Re:Is there a patent for breathing? (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770254)

Mmm, using the strict definition of a "vacuum [wikipedia.org] ", even a Shop Vac is not really a vacuum.

In strict terms, "vacuum is a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter". But in everyday life, a vaccum is something that sucks air.

Big company has lots of patents (0, Redundant)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769832)

about dumb, obvious stuff. Let's talk about it.

In the meantime, Apple and RIM will probably just pay Kodak for the right to use the silly patents which shouldn't exist in the first place.

Re:Big company has lots of patents (0, Redundant)

Aeros (668253) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769882)

nah..especially if they spent so much time and money on the technology..thats just rude that they want to be compensated.

desperate times... (0)

castironpigeon (1056188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769838)

I'm guessing this is the part right before Kodak goes belly up.

Re:desperate times... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769912)

I'm guessing this is the part right before Kodak goes belly up

Kodak saw the digital writing on the film wall a long, long time ago and has been moving to becoming a leader in digital imaging.

Re:desperate times... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770042)

Hmm, not really, no. Leaders in digital imaging would be Canon and Nikon, and as of late Sony as well (since they acquired an ex powerhouse in imaging/optics, Konica-Minolta). Even smaller outfits like Pentax or Olympus are more relevant than Kodak these days.

Re:desperate times... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770170)

Kodak saw the digital writing on the film wall a long, long time ago and has been moving to becoming a leader in digital imaging.

Thats nice. How about they do some actual leading, then? All the "moving to becoming" doesn't seem to be working so well.

Re:desperate times... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770258)

Kodak makes high-end digital scanners, and has for years. They are definitely a leader in that particular field of digital imaging.

Oh, I forgot, the only market segment that counts is consumer-level technology. Carry on.

Off the cuff, knee jerk.. (1)

assemblyronin (1719578) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769848)

My knee jerk reaction to this (no patent is given directly in TFA) is this: How is the act of previewing a photo novel? I could see that having a *specific technology* that enables this patented, but not the act of allowing the user to preview the photo. Plus, it's something that everyone since the personal camera came out wanted. I remember when you had to wait to develop a whole roll of film and hope that the exposure/lighting was correct while thinking to yourself, "Man, I wish i could see the photo i just took without taking it to the store and getting it developed."

Prior art on the analog side? Polaroid allowed 'photo preview' with their cameras before it was available in a digital format

Re:Off the cuff, knee jerk.. (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769944)

My knee jerk reaction is that the patent is valid, and people are trolling. If it was remotely invalid people wouldn't be referring to it in such vague terms, they'd just give the abstract.

Re:Off the cuff, knee jerk.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769996)

Prior art on the analog side? Polaroid allowed 'photo preview' with their cameras before it was available in a digital format

Ironically, Kodak was forced to stop selling instant cameras after Polaroid brought a patent-infringement lawsuit against them.

Re:Off the cuff, knee jerk.. (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770060)

Plus, it's something that everyone since the personal camera came out wanted. I remember when you had to wait to develop a whole roll of film and hope that the exposure/lighting was correct while thinking to yourself, "Man, I wish i could see the photo i just took without taking it to the store and getting it developed."

You know that a reaction like that is EXACTLY why someone would invent it and patent it.

If EVERYONE agrees that there is a problem, and then someone goes out and invents something that fixes that problem, isn't that exactly what the patent process is meant to encourage?

Re:Off the cuff, knee jerk.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770280)

Previewing a photo is simply an idea. You can't patent ideas.

You can, however, patent the implementation. Unfortunately in this case, the implementation is "display data on screen". Not a whole lot of wiggle room there for someone else to come up with a new implementation.

Re:Off the cuff, knee jerk.. (1)

green1 (322787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770342)

No, the patent process is meant to encourage patenting of the specific method used to solve the problem, not the general end goal of having the problem solved.

As things are, I could patent teleportation, and even though I haven't come up with how to do it, I could claim royalties from anyone in the future who does.

The system is badly broken. We badly need to get back to the idea that you can't patent anything unless you have a device that performs the function, and then only that method can be patented, any other method of achieving the same goal would still be valid.

Re:Off the cuff, knee jerk.. (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770480)

They didnt invent something that fixes the problem. That concept was around long before the technology to do so. They just invented one (or more) ways to accomplish that concept. If someone comes along and designs something that does the same thing in a completely different method, then that is their invention and not yous.

Re:Off the cuff, knee jerk.. (1)

assemblyronin (1719578) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770492)

I agree that's how patents are intended, most definitely. I've just become jaded by the industry standard practice to file a patent for something obvious and non-novel, and then sue the heck out of companies actually doing something. As it turns out my knee jerk reaction was exactly as advertised.

After reading the abstract, background, and summary of the invention it appears that Kodak 'built a better mouse trap', and then patented it. Also, TFS doesn't properly define the 'preview' functionality, Kodak uses 'preview' in the sense that you use the eye viewfinder to 'preview' your photo before it is taken. So what they really patented was a method in the hardware to deliver quickly and efficiently the image you're about to capture to a low-res LCD, and then use a more power-intensive algorithm to generate the high-res still photo.

The advantage of the invention is that the two modes can be tailored for a relatively low quality "motion" mode and a much higher quality "still" mode. The motion mode images from the CCD sensor are processed by a hardwired digital signal processing circuit that generates low resolution, spatially subsampled digital image data which can directly drive the relatively low resolution LCD display. This reduces the complexity and clock frequency of the required circuitry, compared to generating an NTSC format signal, as is normally done in the prior art. The still mode image from the CCD sensor is processed by a general purpose processor (CPU) which executes an image processing software program in order to produce a high quality digital still image.

(Emphasis mine)

Patent number (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769934)

At least one of the patents is 6292218.

Claim 1 is a nice example of patenting the goal.

Re:Patent number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770478)

I hope that's not the only one, because it's the obvious solution to an obvious problem.

Is there any doubt about what Patents Do? (4, Insightful)

paulsnx2 (453081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769952)

As other posters have already pointed out, we don't have much detail at this time. But let us assume for a moment that the Kodak patent in question is over the ability to preview a picture taken....

We have had thumbnail representations of pictures for much longer than 20 years.

And given a digital camera, the first thing you might want, after you take a picture, is to see what the picture looks like.

If this isn't obvious, what is?

And exactly how does it advance the technology to have every company pay a "tax" to Kodak who makes a camera with preview ?

Toss obvious patents! Cut the lifetime of the rest to 5 years!

If we really wanted free markets, competition, and growth of technology, the goal would be to cut the number of patents filed in the U.S. by 75 percent! Big companies use patents to tax others, and to crowd out competition. Do we really think Kodak had to come around and invent preview for digital cameras? Hogwash.

Re:Is there any doubt about what Patents Do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770722)

"We have had thumbnail representations of pictures for much longer than 20 years"
- Over 20 years ago, you, and others, had cameras that had thumbnail pictures of what you just took? I missed out as a child.

"And given a digital camera, the first thing you might want, after you take a picture, is to see what the picture looks like."
-Yes, it might be obvious now, but that the way things work. Something 'new' comes out, we use it for a couple of years, and we begin to think that it was obvious. I refer you to Wikipedia (You can find it yourself). Read about them ,and you'll see that in the 70-early 90s the technology just wasn't there to accomplish what you are referring to as 'obvious'.

"And exactly how does it advance the technology to have every company pay a "tax" to Kodak who makes a camera with preview ?"
-What the patent system is meant to do, is allow companies/individuals to recoup research and development cost. Companies/individuals have no incentive to pour money into research and development just to have someone else take that idea and run with it, because they have more money to develop the final product since they didn't have to blow their money on R&D. How is that fair to the original company?

The reason why retail cell phone prices are high (1, Insightful)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769980)

.....is not because the service provider wants to "encourage" you to sign up for a two year contract, it's because of all the stacked tech licensing fees.

Silly Kodak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769998)

Don't they know that Apple is above the law. sheesh

Ah yes... (1)

BancBoy (578080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770002)

Kodak, makers of the Apple QuickTake 100 and 150 are suing Apple...good thing the QuickTake didn't have a preview mode! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_QuickTake [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ah yes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770166)

Oh yeah, i forgot, once you hire a company to manufacture something for you, you own that company's patents. All of them... and souls, souls too

I foresee... (4, Insightful)

Synchis (191050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770010)

An out of court settlement with both companies.

The first thing I see amongst comments here is a bunch of stuff about invalid patents.

What the /. community needs to understand, is that not *every* patent is invalid just because its being used to sue.

Kodak is not a patent troll. They do real work, good work, and file patents on it to protect their inventions.

If there was ever a patent to assume is valid and in good standing, it would be a digital imaging patent, filed by a company that specializes in Imaging (and these days, Digital imaging).

Kodak is not evil. If these companies think they can implement functionality in their devices just because everyone else does, they need to think again. Everyone else is licensing the technology. If they are not, then they are infringing, and deserve to be sued.

Re:I foresee... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770148)

What does Kodak make these days? They are just a litigious patent company.

They stopped being relevant when their expensive as hell wet paper technology seized to be useful.

Re:I foresee... (1)

Synchis (191050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770226)

<sarcasm>
Oh yeah, we see news every day about Kodak suing the pants off everyone over a bunch of crap patents.
</sarcasm>

Seriously...

Kodak makes:

Digital Cameras (imagine that!)
Memory cards of all types
Printers
Video Cameras
Digital Picture Frames
Disposable Cameras
Batteries, Bags, Cables, Tripods, Docks, Lenses, Flashes, and many many more accessories.

Oh yeah... nothing but a patent troll here.

Gimme a break.

Re:I foresee... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770392)

You forgot to mention film used in motion pictures... I believe they are the largest supplier to the film industry.

Re:I foresee... (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770624)

Not to mention that virtually every digital camera on the market uses a Bayer filter, which was developed by Kodak.

It appears a lot of posters here are morons. We're not talking about a tiny, obscure company; nor are we talking about some little-known corner of technology. Kodak has been one of the largest (maybe THE largest) developers of the fundamental digital camera technology we use today.

Re:I foresee... (5, Informative)

RogL (608926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770268)

What does Kodak make these days? They are just a litigious patent company.

I don't know about that, they sell:
digital still cameras, digital video cameras, printers, printers, photo-related software, and retail photo kiosks.

Seems to be some real actual products there.

Re:I foresee... (1)

tonyreadsnews (1134939) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770432)

Sure looks like at least some of the patents they're filing seem to be new and or useful.
http://www.google.com/patents?scoring=1&q=%22Eastman+Kodak+Company%22&btnG=Search+Patents [google.com]
Just because you don't see a fancy new product from Kodak showcasing some new patent technology doesn't mean they don't make anything.
Some companies do spend money on R&D to license that tech to companies who don't want to spend the R&D money.

Re:I foresee... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770444)

I think you should check your facts about photography and cinematography.

Most of Kodak's actual film emulsions, specially Portra, and the black and white 100 ASA TMAX (which emulsion they updated less than two years ago) are optimized to be scanned and later digitally processed. Actually, shooting on Kodak film and then scanning is the default and normal workflow for most movies shot in Hollywood.

And what do you mean by expensive? In medium format photography, where digital sensors with the same photosensitve surface size as film cost way more than thirty grands, film is actually way cheaper than digital for the average profesional or artistic photog. And medium format digital backs are actually struggling to outresolve 120 film on competitive prices, and are at least 5 years away of outresolving 4x5 sheet film even on flagship models.

Just that film stopped being mainstream and competitive on the photojournalism and casual-baby-snapper segments doesn't mean its no longer usefull, or a field where no innovation still happens.

Oh, and BTW, Kodak is one of the world top manufacturer of CCD digital sensors. I think they may have one or two cool patents on digital imaging that they deserve some respect on, specially from the likes of Apple or any other useless company than only manufactures made-in-china expensive toys.

Re:I foresee... (1)

sohmc (595388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770350)

A thought-out response! Wow, a first for me!

I agree with you, Synchis. It sounds like Kodak tried to reach some sort of settlement in terms of licensing, but weren't able to. So they've lit the perverbial fire underneith them and hopefully that will be enough for apple to come to terms with them.

I'm sure Kodak isn't asking for gobs of money since it already licenses their patents.

Re:I foresee... (1)

GreyBear (98473) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770386)

A couple of points;

1. Kodak *used* to do "real work, good work".
2. Yes Kodak has multiple digital imagin patents, but trying to claim they invented the preview? They might as well claim to have invented the human eye.
3. I agree Kodak is not evil, but licensing isn't the only response to a claim of patent infringement. Perhaps Apple should pull a Doctorow and buy Kodak. At least then they could re-purpose the infrastructure and talent for more creative purposes....

Greybear

Re:I foresee... (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770406)

As soon as we heard that cameras were digital, we pretty much immediately thought, "Oh I can't wait until we can have tiny screens to see what we're taking/took". It's the natural extension of the technology. If my dad can think of this, and I can, it's pretty obvious. The implementation of that, and the techniques you use to do it, should be patentable, but ... isn't the existence of a preview screen something that pretty much any camera-user would have thought of? What am I missing?

Re:I foresee... (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770654)

You failed to patent it first, that's what you missed. Just think of the licensing fees you could be raking in.

Re:I foresee... (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770438)

Functionality is not a technology, it's a concept. The means to accomplish that functionality is technology. When the concept is as obvious as a preview on a camera, it shouldn't be patentable. It's just common sense.

Re:I foresee... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770744)

A preview in a digital camera is not an ovbiously achievable technological task. Normally when "previewing" the camera is capturing images at the rate of 20 or so per second, at the same aperture the photo will be taken. This sets the exposure at 1/20th of a second per frame. Sometimes that is not the actual shutter speed needed to take a good picture, so you must darken (or brighten) the frame accordinly using only the data than a 1/20th of a second exposure gives you.

There are multiple ways of achieving this, the simplest and obvious ones just look awfull... Most of them use raw sensor data, or drive the sensorm in creative ways, to use sensibilities only possible because of the reduced image size of the preview. I can really imagine patentable stuff in this field.

Re:I foresee... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770808)

What the /. community needs to understand, is that not *every* patent is invalid just because its being used to sue.

Perhaps not, but that's the way to bet.

Given that you already have
1) The technology for a digital still camera
2) The technology for a digital movie camera

is it really patent worthy to have a device which works like a movie camera until a button is pressed, at which point it takes a picture like a still camera? Because that's what Claim 1 of patent 6292218 covers. Oddly enough it only covers it for cameras with mosaic sensors, so you can use the same technology in a camera with a Foveon sensor, or with a monochrome camera, with no patent issues.

Nuke their idiocy! (0)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770138)

Because looking at what you're taking a picture of is completely non-obvious.

Presumably everyone with at least one working eye will be sued next.

The biggest evidence that this is a BS lawsuit... (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770364)

is how long the iPhone and such have been on the market already. If someone markets a product in violation of your patent, especially when it is so popular as the iPhone, then you best ship up pretty quick and get it cleared up instead of waiting a couple years to make a fuss. That just shows that you finally realized you could make a quick buck and not that you just realized the patent was being violated.

Re:The biggest evidence that this is a BS lawsuit. (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770496)

is how long the iPhone and such have been on the market already. If someone markets a product in violation of your patent, especially when it is so popular as the iPhone, then you best ship up pretty quick and get it cleared up instead of waiting a couple years to make a fuss. That just shows that you finally realized you could make a quick buck and not that you just realized the patent was being violated.

Or perhaps, Kodak has been trying to reach an agreement with Apple without going to court since the iPhone was released and now filed suit after deciding that Apple was unwilling to license the technology. I don't know either way, but we don't have enough information to decide.

Re:The biggest evidence that this is a BS lawsuit. (1)

caladine (1290184) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770534)

... Or more likely they've been talking with Apple and RIM for a while now, and the negotiations broke down.

Re:The biggest evidence that this is a BS lawsuit. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770776)

And you might not think that Kodak has been talking to Apple about licensing? That is after all cheaper than court action, so they might give that a fairly long attempt. No no, instead they cunningly wait until products are hit and then take them to court as very first action... Funny how we didn't hear about Nokia, Sony-Ericssn etc getting sued

-- This post may contain traces of sarcasm.

No way to tell (1)

LarrySDonald (1172757) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770512)

The story omits the rather important detail of the patent number. Without it (and a link wouldn't hurt) it's rather hard to tell how much merit there is. On a broader scale, it goes to show how messed up the patent system is. The scales lean so far toward "pointless patent trolls" that it's virtually assumed anyone suing over a patent is wrong. Kodak do hold several well-earned patents (though not photostatic copies - nya nya nya) and it's not a bad idea to get people paid for coming up with good ideas. Then again, you can't expect to get paid forever or for something that is blatantly obvious given the tech at hand at time of "discovery". The balance is horrible right now.

Oh no! (0)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770590)

Does this mean it will now be harder to get a RIM job?
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