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Court Signs "Disappointing" $527 Million Kodak Patent Sale to Apple-Led Consortium

By - Source: WSJ | B 18 comments

Kodak will receive far less than the estimated $2.6 billion for a portfolio of 1,100 patents.

A court approved the purchase to a consortium that includes industry heavy weights such as Apple, Google, Samsung, RIM, Amazon, Fujifilm, Adobe, HTC, Huawei, Shutterfly, Facebook and Microsoft for a total of $527 million. The majority of the patents - a chunk of 700 documents - refer to related to digital camera LCD viewfinders, and 400 patents are related to image capture and manipulation and network-based services.

The purchase price was described as "disappointing" by judge Allan Gropper, who green-lighted the sale to allow Kodak to conclude its bankruptcy proceedings. For the consortium, the patent acquisition could be considered a bargain, given the potential damage that could have been caused, if the patents had fallen into the hands of a patent troll, which are growing stronger through their license deals.

From the buyer's perspective, however, the Kodak patents were rather expensive. At about $477,000 per patent, Google paid twice as much per patent that the amount it paid for the average Motorola patent.

"With the Court's approval of the sale of our digital imaging patent portfolio, we have achieved one of Kodak's key restructuring objectives, while positioning our Commercial Imaging business for further growth and success, and enabling Kodak to repay a substantial amount of its initial lending," Kodak said in a statement. The company aims to use the funds to provide its business with a fresh start.

 

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  • 16 Hide
    vaughn2k , January 14, 2013 11:13 PM
    In the Philippines, when I was a kid, we usually called a picture taking event as 'pa-kodak', much as we called a toothpaste as 'colgate'...
    Its sad to hear that was once a globally renowned company for 130 years, suddenly took its downturn...
  • 12 Hide
    A Bad Day , January 14, 2013 11:13 PM
    Overvalued patents because of the broken patent system is overvalued...
Other Comments
  • 16 Hide
    vaughn2k , January 14, 2013 11:13 PM
    In the Philippines, when I was a kid, we usually called a picture taking event as 'pa-kodak', much as we called a toothpaste as 'colgate'...
    Its sad to hear that was once a globally renowned company for 130 years, suddenly took its downturn...
  • 12 Hide
    A Bad Day , January 14, 2013 11:13 PM
    Overvalued patents because of the broken patent system is overvalued...
  • 4 Hide
    blurr91 , January 14, 2013 11:45 PM
    vaughn2kIts sad to hear that was once a globally renowned company for 130 years, suddenly took its downturn...


    Such is the world of business. If it can't make money, then it should go away. If it's worth whie for the consumers, then the consumers would have kept it in business. Keeping a failed venture alive with tax dollars is unconscienable.
  • -4 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , January 14, 2013 11:46 PM
    Is it possible that Apple can sue Kodak with the same patents that it acquired in some later day in the future?
  • 1 Hide
    twelch82 , January 15, 2013 12:00 AM
    jupiter optimus maximusIs it possible that Apple can sue Kodak with the same patents that it acquired in some later day in the future?


    A license to use all of the patents they sold indefinitely is probably part of the contract. But if not, I could definitely imagine Apple doing that.
  • 4 Hide
    ddpruitt , January 15, 2013 12:21 AM
    vaughn2kIts sad to hear that was once a globally renowned company for 130 years, suddenly took its downturn...


    It was anything but sudden. When was the last time you remember seeing a Kodak digital camera? Exactly.

    Kodak, like Polaroid, didn't change with the times and stuck with an antiquated business. That was there downfall.
  • 5 Hide
    southernshark , January 15, 2013 12:24 AM
    jupiter optimus maximusIs it possible that Apple can sue Kodak with the same patents that it acquired in some later day in the future?



    Apple did not acquire patents, but merely licensed them. As Apple actually invented photography, it could use other patents of its own to go after Kodak.... even though most of those patents expired 100 years ago.
  • -4 Hide
    bustapr , January 15, 2013 12:40 AM
    the kodak people are idiots for actually agreeing to sell at that price. if you want $2.6b for patents and the richest companies in the world(some of which have billions to spare) are grouping together to buy them, you don't just sell them for 20% of what you wanted. no wonder they're economically screwed...
  • 2 Hide
    happybenguy , January 15, 2013 1:29 AM
    "For the consortium, the patent acquisition could be considered a bargain, given the potential damage that could have been caused, if the patents had fallen into the hands of a patent troll"...but I thought they did say Apple was involved..
  • -1 Hide
    uglynerdman , January 15, 2013 2:46 AM
    kodak should have gotten alot more in my opinion. But im sure the legal waiting fees and negotiation would take years. still not even a billion?

    i cant wait till someone patents oxygen like in example monsanto patenting all plants and were breathing their created air and we gotta pay rent.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , January 15, 2013 3:18 AM
    If a patent troll could pay more why shouldn't the patent troll get the patents? Apple is by far the biggest patent troll there is in any event. Ask Samsung.
  • 5 Hide
    Solandri , January 15, 2013 3:46 AM
    ddpruittIt was anything but sudden. When was the last time you remember seeing a Kodak digital camera? Exactly.Kodak, like Polaroid, didn't change with the times and stuck with an antiquated business. That was there downfall.

    Kodak was actually the first photo company to change with the times. Kodak made the first digital camera in 1975. By the early 1990s they had a line of >1 MP DSLRs (modified Canon and Nikon bodies with a Kodak sensor) costing $13k-$30k which they marketed to press photographers.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodak_DCS

    To give you an idea how far ahead they were, in 1994 my lab bought an Apple Quicktake 100. That was 0.3 MP. It nearly 5 years before consumer digital cameras hit 1 MP, a mark Kodak had already surpassed in 1991. And the first non-Kodak DSLR was the Canon 30D in 2000.

    Most of the early work on digital camera sensors and imaging technology was entirely Kodak's doing. Their problem was that after a certain point, it's dirt cheap and simple to make a sensor. It's not like a CPU where you have to design each transistor. With a sensor you design one pixel, and repeat it a several million times.

    Consequently, the companies which dominate the digital camera market today are ones with strong backgrounds in optics and bodies. Those are still hard to make (or rather, make well), and that's where the money is at. Unlike film, which was a consumable; you only need to buy one digital sensor per camera. That doomed Kodak since they didn't make bodies (unless you count their disposables or cheap disc or 110 cameras).
  • 1 Hide
    fuzzion , January 15, 2013 4:08 AM
    Another name to tell my grand children in the year 2050.
  • -2 Hide
    abbadon_34 , January 15, 2013 7:10 AM
    "given the potential damage that could have been caused, if the patents had fallen into the hands of a patent troll" ... said investment bankers hoping to recover their 200 point 30% loss in Apple over the last few months ...
  • 0 Hide
    maddy143ded , January 15, 2013 12:12 PM
    Quote:
    From the buyer's perspective, however, the Kodak patents were rather expensive. At about $477,000 per patent, Google paid twice as much per patent that the amount it paid for the average Motorola patent.


    since it was consortium of more then 10 companies led by apple, I fail to see how it was only google that overpaid?
  • 0 Hide
    jabliese , January 15, 2013 12:34 PM
    ddpruittIt was anything but sudden. When was the last time you remember seeing a Kodak digital camera? Exactly.Kodak, like Polaroid, didn't change with the times and stuck with an antiquated business. That was there downfall.

    Over the course of about 5 years, their core business, film, went to almost zero. And the replacement business, digital cameras, had a lot more competition. That's hard times anyway you cut it.
  • 0 Hide
    rosen380 , January 15, 2013 1:37 PM
    "If a patent troll could pay more why shouldn't the patent troll get the patents? Apple is by far the biggest patent troll there is in any event. Ask Samsung."

    If the patents were worth significantly more [for the purposes of suing other companies, perhaps falling back on licencing them out :) ], then some other group would come forward with a higher offer, no?
  • 1 Hide
    GreaseMonkey_62 , January 15, 2013 5:37 PM
    If Kodak has focused on licensing these patents years ago and making DSLR cameras they may have not come to this position. Once cameras became popular on any decent cell phone it was only a matter of time before the traditional point and shoot camera became obsolete.