Kodak, Sun Settle Java Lawsuit

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Eastman Kodak Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. have settled their lawsuit over whether Sun infringed on Kodak's patents in creating the Java platform.

The two sides came to an out-of-court agreement Wednesday night, before they would enter the penalty or awards phases of a trial in which a jury found Sun guilty last Friday.

Read more here about the initial phase of the trial between Kodak and Sun.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, and neither Kodak nor Sun would comment on the settlement. But Kodak said earlier this week that it was seeking more than $1 billion in damages from Sun.

A Rochester, N.Y., jury found Oct. 1 that Sun infringed on Kodak's patents when it created Java and released the technology in 1995. Kodak is based in Rochester and is the city's largest employer.

At issue were three patents that Kodak inherited when it acquired Wang Laboratories Inc. in 1997. Kodak claims that Java infringes on parts of these three patents.

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

One of the patents at issue indicates a means by which "two processes that are to cooperate in a data-interchange operation identify each other, and to identify data formats they have in common." And some observers say that, taken broadly, the same patents might be used to claim infringement by Microsoft's .Net platform.

Sun denied that it infringed on the Kodak patents during a three-week trial. After the jury announced its finding, Sun spokeswoman May Petry said the company was prepared to defend its intellectual property rights.

"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," Petry said in a statement released at the time. "We will also continue to vigorously protect and defend our IP when appropriate."

If Kodak and Sun had not settled the case, the trial on Thursday would have entered the penalty phase, where Kodak planned to seek more than $1 billion in damages from Sun.

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