February 13, 2002 7:00 AM PST

Kodak sues Sun over aspects of Java

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Eastman Kodak has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against computer maker Sun Microsystems that focuses on technologies found in Sun's Java programming language.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, alleges that many of Sun's Java-based products infringe on three patents--numbers 5,206,951, 5,421,012 and 5,226,161--that were issued to Kodak in the mid-1990s and that deal with object technologies underlying Java, a Kodak spokesman said.

"We've attempted to resolve this with Sun for about three years, but the discussions with Sun have not led to a suitable licensing agreement," Kodak spokesman Anthony Sanzio said.

Sun acknowledged the suit in a terse news release. "Based on discussions over many months with Kodak, Sun believes that this suit is without merit, and, accordingly, will defend itself vigorously and is confident that it will prevail," the company said.

The Java language and related products have been at the heart of Sun's bid for dominance in the software industry, a quest that has put it at loggerheads with software powerhouse Microsoft. Java has been a mainstay of software development focused on Web applications since about the middle of the last decade, and Sun boasts that there are more than 3 million Java programmers worldwide.

Kodak, better known for film products than for software, has been striving for several years to deal with the shift of photographic technology to the digital realm, including the Internet. The Rochester, N.Y.-based company acquired the patents from Wang Labs, which had fallen from its high perch in the minicomputer business of the 1980s, when it bought Wang's software business in 1997.

 

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