Winning a skirmish at the ITC is not the same as winning a war. Apple vs. Nokia take note.
“Kodak Wins a Round in $1 Billion Apple, RIM Patent Dispute” — Bloomberg News
Traders were pretty quick to cash in on that headline. Kodak’s (EK) battered stock opened Friday at $3.30 a share and jumped nearly 25% to $4.12 in after-hours trading, as if those $1 billion were already in Kodak’s pocket.
But winning a round in a patent dispute at the International Trade Commission is not the same as knocking the guy out, as Apple’s (AAPL) lawyers surely recognized a few hours earlier when an ITC Judge ruled that Apple had not violated five Nokia (NOK) patents.
In the Kodak case, all that happened was a judge agreed to send to a six-member commission for final review a case that had already gone against Kodak twice. The ITC staff had concluded and a chief administrative law judge had determined that Apple and Research in Motion (RIMM) were not in violation of Kodak’s disputed patents. It’s possible that the commission will overrule both the staff and the chief ALJ, but it’s not something Kodak or its investors can bank on.
Apple’s apparent victory over Nokia could also be sent to the commission for review. Moreover, it’s only five patents in a hydra-headed, 75-patent dispute that’s being fought not just at the ITC, but in six other legal venues. See the chart above assembled by FOSS Patents‘ Florian Mueller when he reviewed the legal battlefield in December.
We asked Mueller to comment on Friday’s proceedings. His reply below the fold.
On Sunday, Mueller took a detailed look at the current state of Apple vs. Nokia. You can read it here.
Also on Fortune.com:
[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]