Kodak to license Internet imaging patents!|
Future Image Inc.
(Saturday, February 24, 2001 - 21:32 EST)
Kodak today announced it has set up a formal network patent licensing program. In other words, the photography giant has begun to enforce the patents covering Internet photofinishing it acquired with PictureVision, as well as technology its developed itself in Rochester over the years.
Last week we noted the Kodak/Olympus patent agreement was probably a precursor to just this sort of action. We hear from excellent sources that AOL has already agreed to Kodak's terms in regards to the patents. [Kodak and America Online jointly produce the "You've Got Pictures" service.] Kodak says it has started implementing the network patent licensing program, and expects to sign additional agreements with industry partners throughout the year.
Kodak reports it has a portfolio of 24 issued patents related to Internet photography and network services, including photo sharing and storage patents - - with many additional patents pending - - due to its "significant, early investments in research and development,"
Kodak says its current network patent portfolio addresses: End-to-End Photo Network: Including the ability to upload digital or film photos as high- or low-resolution images, then use an online network to place a print order.
Photo-Sharing System: Including selectively sharing all types of digital images over a network.
Photo Hub System: Including networked systems for distributing or retrieving images and using multiple image scanners connected to a hub system.
Creative picture editing: Including adding background templates, text or multi-image layouts to online photos.
In other words, Kodak's broad patents, if enforceable, cover just about every aspect of web photo sharing, photofinishing, proofing, and image enhancement.
In a statement, Willy Shih, president, Digital & Applied Imaging, and senior Kodak vice president says, "This will drive industry growth by encouraging the common use of standards that ultimately will benefit consumers." For that statement to be true, Kodak will have to wield its IP might in such a way as to create win/win scenarios with other players - - or it could stunt the growth of online imaging to everyone's disadvantage.
- Paul Worthington and Alexis Gerard
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