A federal judge yesterday turned down a request by Berkey Photo Inc. to force Eastman Kodak Co. to divest itself of its camera manufacture and photo-finishing divisions.in the final or relief phase of Berkey's landmark antitrust case against Kodak.
At the same time U.S. District Court Judge Marvin E. Frankel, who presided over the six-month antitrust trial in which a jury found Kodak guilty ofmonopolizing various segments of the amateur photography market disallowed $10.5 million of the $37.6 million in damages awarded by the jury to Berkey.
Because under federal law, damages in an antitrust case are automatically tripled, the judge's reduction in damages cuts Kodak's liability by more than $31 million to $81.3 million.
While declining to order divestiture, Frankel said Kodak in the future will have to tell competitors more about its new products before they are introduced and will also have to supply color print paper without the Kodak insignia at the option of the purchaser.
He noted that Kodak already "provides neutral paper to Polaroid, presumably responding to similar concerns when expressed by a more powerful bargaining partner."
A spokesman for Kodak said the company had no immediate comment since no one had yet had a chance to read the full 79-page decision by Judge Frankel. He repeated that the Rochester-based photographic giant intends to appeal the jury's verdict on its merits.
The judge has yet to enter a final judgement in the case. After he does that. Kodak will have 30 days to appeal. The judge must also decide on the legal fees for Berkey's outside counsel. The law firm has asked for more than $30 million in compensation which Kodak has attacked as excessive.
Frankel, in his opinion, said Berkey's request for divestiture was too drastic under the circumstances.
"This is not a case of unlawful acquisitions," he said. "These facilities are long established and integral parts of the organization unquestionably devoted in large measure for many years to constructive and lawful ends."
At the same time he upheld many of the jury's findings that Kodak had conducted its business in a monopolistic manner.
"Kodak is, as the jury found and its counsel observed, a 'giant'with a nearly unique agglomeration of enormous powers over adjoining markets in a huge industry." Frankel wrote.
He rejected arguments by Kodak that the introduction of new products is immune from prosecution under the antitrust laws.