The US International Trade Commission (ITC) issued a mixed ruling in an infringement suit brought by troubled imaging company Eastman Kodak against Apple and RIM. While an administrative law judge said that devices from the vendors infringe the patent, he also recommended that the patent claim is invalid.

Kodak said that the intellectual property in question is related to “previewing images on a digital camera-enabled device that is fundamental to how those devices take pictures.” Dow Jones Newswires reports that the ITC had questioned its validity due to “obviousness,” and therefore said that Apple and RIM’s actions did not violate trade laws which could have led to an injunction.

The imaging company said that following two separate challenges, the US Patent and Trademark Office analysed the patent, and confirmed its validity in December 2010. It also noted that in a previous ITC probe, a different administrative law judge had found the same Kodak patent to be valid and infringed by Samsung, “whose products are similar to those offered by Apple and RIM.”

In a statement, RIM said that the ITC ruling yesterday marked the second time that ITC judges “with technical backgrounds” had found the patent invalid.

Timothy Lynch, Kodak VP and chief intellectual property officer, said: “We expect to appeal to the full Commission his recommendation on validity. The ALJ’s recommendation represents a preliminary step in a process that we are confident will conclude in Kodak’s favour.”

The final decision of the ITC is expected by late September 2012.