Will Apple derail Kodak's patent sale?


Paul Sutton

On January 19, the 130-year-old photography icon, Eastman Kodak, filed in New York for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after years of ailing and struggling to regain its footing.

Investment banks Lazard Ltd and Jefferies & Company Inc are advising unsecured company creditors and are cooperating on plans for a sale of Kodak’s digital imaging 1000-patent portfolio. Kodak hopes that this sale will bring in as much as $2 billion via an auction process, the terms of which are specified in one or more loan agreements. The company is expected to disclose bidding procedures by mid-year.

This follows years of Kodak’s relying upon income from patent licences and lawsuits for cash to fund its struggling imaging and printing businesses. It is in the process of transforming itself into a truly digital company. The company has licence agreements with more than 30 companies, including Samsung and LG which, collectively, have paid Kodak close to $1 billion to use Kodak image-preview patents.

Kodak, a company whose many inventions include the hand-held camera, does not intend to sell all of its patents. For example, it plans to retain the many patents that cover its core printing business. Kodak is hoping that its investment of hundreds of millions of dollars into new lines of inkjet printers will begin to yield huge profits.

Eastman Kodak, bankruptcy, patent infringement, Apple, patent licensing