Update: Kodak wins patent lawsuit against Sun
Kodak has indicated it will seek $1.06B in lump-sum royalties
IDG News Service - A federal jury in New York has dealt a legal blow to Sun Microsystems Inc., ruling that Sun violated several patents held by Eastman Kodak Co. when it developed its Java technology, a Kodak spokeswoman confirmed today.
The decision, made in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, could prove costly for Sun when the jury reconvenes to determine damages this week.
Rochester, N.Y.-based Kodak has indicated that it will ask Sun for $1.06 billion in lump-sum royalties, according to a local news report.
Kodak initially sued Sun in 2002, claiming that during Sun's development of its Java programming language, the company violated three patents issued in the mid-1990s. Kodak acquired the patents related to object technologies from Wang Laboratories Inc. in 1997.
Sun originally dismissed the claims as being without merit.
But because the patents relate to software construction techniques, they could have wide-ranging effects, according to Illuminata Inc. analyst Gordon Haff.
"It appears to be quite a broad patent claim whose effects could go beyond Java to [Microsoft Corp.'s] .Net as well," he said.
Sun and Microsoft have been battling over the adoption of their respective programming languages centered around Web applications, and patent claims could potentially trip up either player, according to Haff.
Sun still has the opportunity to appeal the decision and is expected to wage a fierce battle, given the potential reach of the verdict and the amount of damages being claimed. Although the company benefited from a nearly $2 billion settlement with Microsoft earlier this year, Sun is still under pressure to get its balance sheet in shape.
"Given Sun's current situation, a billion-dollar settlement would be quite damaging, and anything that impeded Java as well would be quite harmful, given that Sun has made Java a key pillar of its strategy going forward," Haff said.
Sun representatives weren't immediately available to comment on the case early Monday.
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