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Kodak Wins First Round Of Patent Dispute Over Java

by Glen Shapiro,, New York

06 October 2004

A jury in New York ruled on Friday that Sun Microsystems Inc. had infringed on patented technology owned by Eastman Kodak Co. with its development of the Java programming language.

Kodak claims that Java, which was released by Sun in 1995, infringes on one of three patents that it inherited following its acquisition of Wang Laboratories Inc.

According to reports in the technology media, one of the patents in question, which covers a process by which "two processes that are to cooperate in a data-interchange operation identify each other, and...identify data formats they have in common," could have implications for Microsoft's .Net platform if Kodak chooses to press the case.

Kodak welcomed the Java decision, anouncing on Friday that:

"Kodak has made and continues to make substantial technology investments to ensure high-quality products. We are pleased that the court has validated our intellectual property rights protecting these valuable innovations for the benefit of our customers and shareholders."

Sun has revealed that it is likely to appeal the decision, but is preparing itself for the second phase of the trial, which will set the level of damages. Kodak is seeking $1.06 billion in lump-sum royalties, which represents half of Sun's operating profit from systems sold between 1998 and 2001.

In a statement, Sun explained that:

"We are disappointed with the federal jury's decision and are examining our options as we prepare for the liability phase of the two-phase jury trial. We intend to put on a vigorous defense and hope to reach a decision that will be in the best interest of shareholders, customers and Sun. We will also continue to vigorously protect and defend our IP when appropriate."

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