Firm Values Suit Settlement at $150 Million : Kodak Deal With Instant-Camera Buyers OKd

Associated Press

The 3.4 million U.S. owners of Eastman Kodak Co.'s discontinued instant cameras will receive $50 to $70 in cash and coupons under a settlement approved Monday.

Kodak, which was forced to stop making instant cameras and film for them after a patent dispute, said the settlement is worth $150 million, but attorneys for camera owners pegged it at more than $200 million.

"Very, very pleased," said Burton I. Weinstein of Chicago, one of four attorneys who filed the class-action lawsuit against Kodak. "I think both sides agree it's an excellent settlement."

Weinstein said the cash and coupons would probably be mailed to owners in late November.

"From Kodak's point of view, it's good and fair," said William Campbell, who represented the Rochester, N.Y., company.

A suit was filed against Kodak in January, 1986, seeking compensation for instant cameras that were virtually useless after a ruling against Kodak in its legal fight with Polaroid Corp.

A federal judge in Boston said Kodak infringed on Polaroid's instant-camera patent when it entered the market in 1976.

The class-action settlement approved by Cook County Circuit Judge Thomas Rakowski applies to 39 Kodak instant cameras, ranging from the Fiesta, the lowest-priced model, to the Kodamatic 980L, the most expensive.

Owners covered by the lawsuit will get money and rebate coupons. The coupons can be used in purchasing Kodak products such as film, cameras and batteries.

Legal fees are unresolved. Weinstein and co-attorneys Perry M. Berke and William J. Harte of Chicago, and Judah I. Lebovitz of Philadelphia, are asking Rakowski for $6 million to be paid by Kodak.

A proposed settlement in the case was announced in May and publicized in advertisements around the country. Instant camera owners had until Sept. 9 to file claims.

Instant photography was invented by Edwin H. Land, founder of Polaroid, and was first marketed in 1948.

Polaroid retained a monopoly in the instant photography field until 1976, when Kodak entered the market with a competing system. Polaroid immediately filed a suit, charging patent infringement.

The U.S. District judge in Boston sided with Polaroid and the U.S. Supreme Court let stand lower court rulings when it refused to hear Kodak's appeal in October, 1986.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
54°