By Rob Beschizza at 12:11 am Mon, Dec 1, 2008
BBG reader Garpike has established an online archive of classic product manuals. It's just getting started, but already has some great entries, like this ancient and colorful Kodak box.
The Product Manual Archive
It’s interesting to note that Kodak’s instant cameras disappeared after a successful lawsuit by Polaroid, who held all the patents on that technology. Kodak apparently forgot to license them. Oops.
My mom owned one of the Kodak cameras, and after the lawsuit was given a coupon for some % off the purchase of a Polaroid camera. Since Kodak had to quit making the film for their cameras, and since it was somewhat different than Polaroid’s, her camera became useless almost overnight.
Forgot to license? Hardly.
While developing their instant film product, Kodak employed a top patent expert (Francis T Carr) to review some 250 patents relating to instant film, and it was apparently his firm’s counsel that the Kodak products did NOT infringe any of the filed patents.
If you have nothing better to do with your life, have a read of http://www.oppedahl.com/apl/kodak2.pdf, and skip ahead to page 29. What’s interesting (to me at least) is that in fact the decision that the Kodak products infringed the Polaroid patents was based largely on some fine technical detail and arguments about definition of certain terms. These were elements that Carr (and thus Kodak) deemed to be sufficiently different from the Patented items as to not infringe, but for which the judge (and Polaroid) disagreed.
Related claims that Kodak had in some way manipulated or pressured Francis Carr to give the opinions that Kodak wanted were not in any way proven, and the allegations of willful patent infringement were not upheld.
Boiling it down, one can conclude that Kodak did their best not to infringe any patents, and arguably the advice they received was not correct as it turned out.
One thing I recall from the time (uncited, sorry – just my memory) is that there was an opinion floated that the judge in the case could not possibly be sufficiently proficient in the complex chemistries involved to make a fair judgement on whether Kodak had, or had not, infringed. After all, if the technical experts for Polaroid and Kodak could not agree on definitions and process similarities, what chance does a judge have?
Ok, you can wake up now 😉
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