The U.S. International Trade Commission is looking into a complaint filed by a consulting and investing company against Eastman Kodak. Michigan-based St. Clair Intellectual Property Consultants Inc. alleges that Kodak is infringing on its patents that allows digital cameras to store files in multiple formats. What? Thatâ€™s an obvious technology, for crying out loud.
How St. Clair obtained that patent is another story, but their lawyer Ronald Schutz says camera makers like Sony, Fuji, Nikon, Olympus and Canon have settled with them on those patents. Sony, for example, paid $25 million, Fuji $3M, Canon $34.7M (not bad for a $65,000 investment); the others, God knows how many millions more. These big companies are Japan-based and would rather settle early than pay for a protracted court battle in American courts.
But Kodak is an American institution and they should fight claims like these from people who have been sitting pretty on some patents, occasionally lurching forward only to make big bucks on the sweat of others. Kodak should even go to the extent of spearheading a move to overhaul the antiquated patent system of the United States.
Come on, Schutz, youâ€™ve made your pile many times over. Enough already, okay?