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Kodak Wins Patent Infringement Suit Against Sun's Java

   After a 3-week trial, a federal jury decided that Sun Microsystems infringed on Kodak patents when Sun developed the Java programming language and runtime environment. The decision sets the stage for what could be a massive payout from Sun: Kodak is seeking more than $1 billion in damages. The trial's penalty phase starts this week.

"We are pleased that the court has validated Kodak's intellectual-property rights protecting these valuable innovations," Kodak said in a statement issued yesterday. "Kodak has and continues to make substantial technology investments to ensure high-quality products." Sun has promised to mount a "vigorous defense" during the penalty stage, which isn't a bad idea: The $1.06 billion that Kodak is seeking is equal to half the operating profit Sun generated between 1998 and June 2001, according to "The Wall Street Journal."

Sun argued that it didn't infringe on Kodak's patents. Furthermore, Sun argued, Kodak's patents are invalid. Kodak obtained the patents in question when it purchased Wang Laboratories' imaging software division in 1997. The patents cover a method by which a software program can "ask for help" from another program. This method, Kodak said, is similar to how Java operates.


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