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Kodak wins approval to sell patent portfolio

Kodak Company

Legendary photography and imaging company filed for bankruptcy protection at the beginning of the year, and now has won approval to auction off more than 1,100 of its patents related to digital imaging to rake in some cash…and pay off its creditors. Although the legal process isn’t fully complete, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper approved the sale: interested parties must submit bids by July 30, and Kodak can conduct the auction on August 8 if there’s more than one qualified bid.

“We are gratified that the Court has enabled us to move ahead with our patent auction in a timely manner and with clarity on ownership for the winning buyer,” said Kodak VP and chief intellectual property officer Timothy Lynch, in a statement.

Kodak has been mining its extensive patent portfolio for years as a source of cash to keep the company running, claiming that it has pulled in more than $3 billion since 2001 via patent sales to the likes of Nokia, Samsung, and LG Electronics. When Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection, it claimed to have about $5.5 billion in assets compared to nearly $7 billion in debt.

However, industry titan Apple had opposed Kodak’s proposed patent sale. Apple maintains that Kodak “unlawfully” used information gleaned from Apple under confidentiality agreements to obtain 10 patents on technology that Apple believes is its own. Filesharing platform developer Flashpoint had also opposed the sale on similar grounds.

Kodak says it will be providing “adequate protection” for Apple and Flashpoint under bankruptcy code if their claims on selected patents are later ruled to be valid.

Kodak plans to sell the patents in two batches. One set of about 700 patents will cover areas of image capture, processing, and transmission that are particularly applicable to digital cameras. The other group of patents is primarily concerned with network-based services, image tagging, and manipulation.