A picture may be worth a 1000 words, but for Eastman Kodak the preview of a picture might be worth $1 billion in a patent battle against Apple and Research in Motion. The U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday agreed to review a claim that Apple and RIM devices infringe on a Kodak patent for image previewing.
In January an ITC judge sided with Apple and RIM, but Kodak is hoping the ITC will reconsider the individual judge's decision and potentially put royalty negotiations worth $1 billion back on the table.
The patent involves previewing a low-resolution version of an image while recording a high resolution version to save processing power. According to Bloomberg, Kodak generated $838 million from patents last year and claims patent is used in "every digital camera and phone with a camera."
Although the ITC cannot force organizations to pay damages, it can order companies to stop importing products that use the relevant patents.
If the ITC sides against Apple and RIM, it would most likely mean that the two companies would settle with Kodak rather than dropping camera feature from upcoming phones or staying out of the U.S. market. In that case, the outcome would be virtually unnoticed by consumers.
It wouldn't be the first time things swayed in favor of Kodak's favor. In 2009 the ITC ruled that Samsung and LG phones infringed on the same patent and resulted in $964 million in settlements.