Kodak gets $525 million for digital imaging patents
Eastman Kodak once described the sale of 1,100 digital imaging patents as a windfall that could prop up and even save the beleaguered company.
On Wednesday, the sale was finally announced, but instead of bringing as much as $2.6 billion as Kodak once predicted, the selling price was far short of that amount, at about $525 million. The buyer was a consortium that includes many of the world’s biggest technology firms, among them Apple, Google, Facebook and Samsung Electronics.
Kodak officials said the sale was another crucial step toward emerging from bankruptcy, and turning around a decadeslong slide for the Rochester, N.Y.-based corporation.
“This monetization of patents is another major milestone toward successful emergence,” Antonio Perez, Kodak’s chief executive, said in a news release. “Our progress has accelerated over the past several weeks as we prepare to emerge as a strong, sustainable company.”
Among the benefits of the sale, Perez noted, was that it would allow Kodak to largely repay a debtor-in-possession loan it obtained nearly a year ago.
It also satisfied a major provision for an $830 million financing facility, approved in November, that required Kodak to sell its patent portfolio for no less than $500 million.
Kodak will retain a license to use the digital imaging portfolio patents in its future businesses, and for those businesses that it is selling.
Part of the sale will be paid by a consortium of technology companies that was organized by Intellectual Ventures and RPX Corp. The licensees will receive rights to the digital imaging patent portfolio and certain other Kodak patents.
“No single company could have completed this deal and by creating a consortium we were able to ensure that members get access to these important invention rights,” according to a release by Intellectual Ventures, a Washington-based firm that invests in patents. “The patent marketplace is very active, and I.V. expects to be involved in more complex transactions like this in the future.”
Perez said Kodak was now focused on building its commercial imaging business, which includes printing and packaging for businesses.
The sale is subject to the approval of the bankruptcy court.