Eastman Kodak ( EK) and Sony ( SNE) decided to start the year on a happy note. The two called a truce to their two-year-long patent dispute and entered into technology cross-licensing agreements that could bring in additional royalties for Kodak. Kodak inked a technology cross-license agreement with Sony that will allow both companies broad access to each other's patent portfolio. Rochester, N.Y.-based Kodak also said it has entered into another agreement with the Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications joint venture for access to its patent portfolio in a move that could bring additional royalties to Kodak. Kodak did not elaborate on financial details of the agreements. Shares of Kodak were recently up 24 cents, or 0.9%, to $26.04. Shares of Sony were up 40 cents, or 0.9%, to $43.23. Kodak had filed a suit in March 2004 alleging Sony violated its patents relating to digital and video camera technologies. Kodak had listed 10 patents that had been issued to it from 1987 to 2003 as those under dispute. Sony countersued. The news is a bright spot for Kodak, which posted disappointing sales during its third-quarter results reported on Oct. 31. The photo company
lost $37 million, or 13 cents a share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with a year-ago loss of $914 million, or $3.18 a share. The third quarter included $202 million, or 70 cents a share, in restructuring charges, while the year-ago quarter included $778 million, or $2.71 a share, in tax-deferred asset valuation allowance charges. Sales fell to $3.2 billion from $3.55 billion a year earlier. Kodak became the No.1 digital camera seller in the U.S. for 2005, followed by Canon, according to research firm IDC. Sony came in No. 3 but ranked second worldwide, ahead of Canon and Kodak.