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Kodak Lawsuit/Filmlight


Scott LehaneIn early May, Kodak fired the opening salvo in a lawsuit against FilmLight over the use of infrared dust-busting technologies in film scanners, as lawyers for the two companies faced each other in US District Court (Southern District of New York), for a pre-trial conference, in what could end up a very long, expensive and complicated patent infringement suit.The case centers on the use of infrared technologies to detect dust, dirt and scratches on film surfaces during the scanning process, and automatically correct them.In 2004, Kodak acquired Texas-based Applied Science Fiction, which gave the company a portfolio of some 20-30 patents ranging from technologies like the implementation of an infrared light source in a film scanner, defect mapping, image concealment and image correction techniques.The company has been seeking a $25,000-a-year license fee from post houses to use the IR channel in ArriScan film scanners, with Imagica expected to release its version of Kodak’s IR technology sometime next year, on the same terms. The IR-enabled scanners ship with Kodak’s Digital ICE dust-busting system, but with the newest version, users have the option of passing the defect matte off to other dust-busting software for correction.FilmLight, meanwhile, has developed its own infrared dust-busting hardware for its Northlight film scanners, (and has been refusing to charge the license fee). What might make the case particularly complicated is competing claims that infrared scanning was actually first developed and patented in the UK at the BBC in the ’70s (patents which have since lapsed).There are several third party software packages on the market to remove dust and dirt—with or without an infrared defect matte—from companies like MTI, Digital Vision, The Foundry and The Pixel Farm.

Written by Scott Lehane

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