在柯达一案中，发生的情况是法官同意将这宗两度对柯达不利的案子交由一个六人委员会进行终审。此前，ITC调查小组和一名主审行政法官都认定苹果公司和Research in Motion公司并未侵犯柯达公司相关专利。六人委员会可能会推翻调查小组和主审行政法官的判定，但柯达公司或其投资者都不能指望这一点。
"Kodak Wins a Round in $1 Billion Apple, RIM Patent Dispute" -- Bloomberg News
Traders were pretty quick to cash in on that headline. Kodak's (EK) battered stock opened Friday at $3.30 a share and jumped nearly 25% to $4.12 in after-hours trading, as if those $1 billion were already in Kodak's pocket.
But winning a round in a patent dispute at the International Trade Commission is not the same as knocking the guy out, as Apple's (AAPL) lawyers surely recognized a few hours earlier when an ITC Judge ruled that Apple had not violated five Nokia (NOK) patents.
In the Kodak case, all that happened was a judge agreed to send to a six-member commission for final review a case that had already gone against Kodak twice. The ITC staff had concluded and a chief administrative law judge had determined that Apple and Research in Motion (RIMM) were not in violation of Kodak's disputed patents. It's possible that the commission will overrule both the staff and the chief ALJ, but it's not something Kodak or its investors can bank on.
Apple's apparent victory over Nokia could also be sent to the commission for review. Moreover, it's only five patents in a hydra-headed, 75-patent dispute that's being fought not just at the ITC, but in six other legal venues. See the chart above assembled by FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller when he reviewed the legal battlefield in December.
We asked Mueller to comment on Friday's proceedings. His reply below the fold.
"The decision to review the initial determination in the Kodak investigation shows that fortunes can change at any stage of an ITC process. That's why I warned in November against overrating a staff recommendation against Apple: after the staff recommendation, there's the determination made by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), and even the ALJ's determination can still be reviewed until the Commission decides at the highest level.
"With that example in mind, it's important to consider that even in the Nokia vs. Apple investigation the final decision need not be identical to the ALJ's initial determination. In many cases it is, and I'm sure Apple is very happy about it. Also, even if all of Nokia's claims against Apple should be dismissed by the ITC, it might happen the other way round as well, in which case they'd have to fight it out in the US district courts as well as the European courts in which they are suing each other."
On Sunday, Mueller took a detailed look at the current state of Apple vs. Nokia. You can read it here.