Polaroid Once Won an Epic Courtroom Battle with Kodak

Here’s an interesting piece of photo trivia for today: did you know that Apple’s similarities with Kodak don’t end with Steve Jobs modeling his career and his company after Polaroid? The ongoing dispute between Apple and Samsung is strikingly similar to the battle Polaroid had with Kodak many decades ago.

In an interview with Wired, Instant: The Story of Polaroid author Christopher Bonanos states,

Eastman Kodak jumped into instant photography in 1976, and Polaroid sued; the two spent 14-and-a-half years in court, and Polaroid won $925 million, the largest patent settlement ever paid out. Or rather, it was the largest amount until last month, when Apple v. Samsung overtook it. And I’ll tell you, in both cases, the vigor of the lawsuit was in part driven by outrage on the part of the founder. Land wanted to go hard against Kodak because its system was, he felt, a less elegant ripoff of Polaroid’s. He had been willing to face a serious challenge that would cause him to up his game, but not a crummy one — “I expected more of Eastman” is how he put it. And we all know how Steve Jobs felt about Android — that it too was a clumsy knockoff, and that it enraged him. Same instinct.

Apple was awarded $1.05 billion at the end of August in its fight with Samsung. Polaroid’s $925 million came in 1991. Adjusted for inflation, Polaroid’s outcome was actually far greater: it won the equivalent of $1.56 billion!

Why Polaroid Was the Apple of Its Time [Wired via APhotoEditor]

Image credit: Photo illustration based on sea gulls fighting by yewenyi

  • Mike Smith

    I remember my parents having a Kodak instant camera as a kid. I believe it got recalled after Polaroid won the lawsuit but my parents kept the camera. I have looked for it a few times over the years but haven’t been able to find it. I still have hope that it’s in their house somewhere. I would like to add it to my collection of vintage cameras.

  • GUI

    Interesting article. Especially when you think about that Polaroid does not exist anymore…:) @Mike I hope you find it!

  • Samcornwell

    I own a couple of instant Kodak cameras that were bought from car boot sales. One of them happened to have a spare pack of film.

  • Daryl Cheshire

    I was reading the history on Steve Jobs who admired Edwin Land who was also sacked by Polaroid.

  • Fredphoesh

    The big difference is that jobs was a paranoid, hypocritical and lying dick-head. The man frequently bragged about stealing other companies ideas. He stole credit for innovations made by his fellow employees, made false claims about his products (ok, and apple corporation still does that, Hinksey “game changing”, claims about their second rate maps). Apple stole a lot of ideas, and the laughable our case, california vs Korea, held in USA last month has now been shown to be highly questionable… Lead juror withholding info about his partiality. I enjoyed the article, but please don’t be a brain dead American and paint this horseshit notion that apple corporation are “good guys” , it’s not worthy of a thinking person.