The Case that Launched 10,000 Patent Law Suits

The Polaroid-Kodak dispute involved patents covering instant photography, which at the time was among the most valuable technologies. It was the case that launched 10,000 patent suits, many by non-practicing entities.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.ipwatchdog.com

For more than 200 years, the U.S. patent system has bumped along, imperfect and the subject of anger and frustration on the part of patent infringers and patent owners alike, but still capable of producing geniuses like the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison and scores of inventions that changed the world.  Polaroid v. Kodak, concluded in 1991 after 15 years, was the first “billion dollar” patent damages award ($909 million), and, until this year, the largest satisfied judgment in a patent case awarded by a U.S. court. In current value, the award would be almost $2 billion. It was the case that launched 10,000 patent suits, many by non-practicing entities.
The Polaroid dispute involved patents covering instant photography, which at the time was among the most valuable technologies. But as one observer pointed out, by the end of the long dispute, the Polaroid-Kodak battle was “little more than two aging giants dueling on the decks of the Titanic.” Digital photography would soon eclipse instant photography, and both litigants were on the road to insolvency.
Polaroid, which once had 27,000 employees, filed for bankruptcy twice, once in 2001 and then again in 2008 (aka “Chapter 22”), and Kodak, which boasted 147,000 workers at its peak, filed in 2012. It was too little too late to save these once great businesses.
Polaroid and Kodak were the standard-bearers of quality in their respective fields — instant photography, inexpensive cameras and photographic film. Kodachrome was the go-to brand among both professional and amateur photographers for decades, unsurpassed for sharpness and color saturation. Both companies were guilty of focusing too keenly on protecting the formidable and highly profitable products they had and not on those that were to emerge.

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