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Execs From Bankrupt Kodak To Make Millions For Giving The Company's Patents To Trolls

from the this-is-not-innovation dept

We've written about the ridiculousness of the ongoing auction over Kodak's patents -- the final sad legacy for the once giant company. However, it's getting even more ridiculous. On Monday, a bankruptcy court judge approved about $6 million in "performance" bonuses for execs, including some that are based on how much the company gets from these auctions. Think about the ridiculous incentive structure here. You have executives who are running a bankrupt company, who are set to make millions (in a court approved manner), for handing off the company's patents to trolls, so they can go out and sue the actual innovators.

The execs make out like bandits. The buyers likely make out like bandits after shaking down some companies. The lawyers (of course) make out like bandits. And... who gets screwed? Oh yeah, the companies who are actually innovating successfully in the market and the public (who we thought the patent system was supposed to benefit).


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    rw (profile), Aug 7th, 2012 @ 1:57pm

    Benefit

    The public is supposed to benefit? I thought it was just lawyers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 7th, 2012 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Benefit

    "The Public" is a code-word which means: "the lawyers, and the wealthiest 0.01% of the world/nation population, and the lawyers."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    The eejit (profile), Aug 7th, 2012 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Benefit

    Nah, they jumped on the bandwagon. Movie studios were pulling this shit before it was cool.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    drew (profile), Aug 7th, 2012 @ 2:51pm

    I'm waiting...

    ... for the usual defenders to come out with a statement on this one.
    Probably something about it being legal and written into the contracts of the execs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2012 @ 2:52pm

    you can blame the system for this type of reckless behaviour but in this instance you can actually blame the judge for acting like complete and utter dick brain idiot!

     

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  6.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Aug 7th, 2012 @ 2:55pm

    Yeah!!!!

    Screw the employees, retirees, and stockholders. Lets make sure those execs get paid. F'in insane.

     

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  7.  
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    Vog (profile), Aug 7th, 2012 @ 2:55pm

    "Performance" bonuses? This is a euphemism, isn't it??

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2012 @ 3:13pm

    Re:

    Euphemism for acting play may be.

    Because surely can't be about good performance of that company in the market.

     

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  9.  
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    LDoBe (profile), Aug 7th, 2012 @ 3:24pm

    Re:

    Yeah. The execs gave the judge a performance of fellatio that exceeded last quarter's standard. Now they get incentivized to do even better in another 3 months.

     

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  10.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Aug 7th, 2012 @ 3:44pm

    Re:

    Hell yes performance bonuses! It takes a lot of hard work to run an established business with name recognition and a patent trove so far into the ground that they have to sell everything off. I bet those execs had to put in 40 hours a week to acomplish it!

     

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  11.  
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    Tunnen (profile), Aug 7th, 2012 @ 3:45pm

    the public (who we thought the patent system was supposed to benefit).

    What strange world have you been living on? I don't think anyone ever expected a patent system to benefit the public. Similar to how the public would never think that a politician was above corruption, a CEO was looking out for the little guy, or the RIAA to ever get a clue. =P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2012 @ 4:24pm

    Yellow journalism part 2. If you can't prove your point in a really long post that tries to discredit selling of the patents, let's move along to smearing the people involved.

    You are nothing if you are not predictable.

     

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  13.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Aug 7th, 2012 @ 5:18pm

    Re: ...smearing the people involved.

    If you can’t prove your point in a really long post that tries to discredit immoral activity, let’s move along to smearing the people involved.

    Because, you know, like being “involved” doesn’t actually mean you have anything to do with what’s going on...

     

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  14.  
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    Thomas (profile), Aug 7th, 2012 @ 5:23pm

    does the judge

    who approved the bonuses get a cut? I wouldn't be surprised. Companies that are owed money by Kodak should be outraged. Giving away valuable patents instead of selling them is typical of the way executives work in these days.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2012 @ 7:49pm

    Re:

    "Yellow journalism part 2. If you can't prove your point in a really long post that tries to discredit selling of the patents, let's move along to smearing the people involved."

    Great job. According to your logic, you can't disprove his point, so you've moved on to "smearing the people involved."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2012 @ 8:05pm

    You can't sell the right to sue, so why should you be allowed to sell a patent.
    If Kodak fall let their patents die as well, if someone wants them they can buy Kodak itself, and keep it a running company, for once it stops being an active company it's patens go away.

    Thats how it should be.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2012 @ 8:37pm

    Re:

    He is not trying to discredit selling the patents. The patents are an asset of a bankrupt company, being sold off to pay creditors plus the unhappy shareholders. The real story is about elite greed. The executives are not entitled to any of the proceeds of the sale of any of the assets, including the patents. That money should be going to creditors in the first instance, then shareholders after the creditors are all paid off. The executives get to draw their normal salaries, for as long as their jobs last, and that is it. Their salaries may be reduced by decision of the receiver. They may be dismissed at any time by the receiver.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2012 @ 10:20pm

    So the executives who steered the company into bankruptcy get to leave their failed tenure with millions of dollars while the workers get what? I love how American capitalism seems to now lavishly award failure as long as you are an executive or higher.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2012 @ 11:06pm

    Re: Re:

    Yes, and if the performance bonuses are part of their contracts, should they not get paid?

    Techdirt has posts already suggesting that the patents shouldn't be sold (and possibly should be stripped from the company and perhaps made nul and void), now Mike is ragging on the executives for getting paid.

    It's swarmy, shitty, and petty. He knows he's wrong, but he does it anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 7th, 2012 @ 11:33pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Performance bonuses...for an exec running a bankrupt company? That's what has Masnick and myself scratching our heads. Why should these execs be rewarded for running their company into the ground?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    drew (profile), Aug 8th, 2012 @ 12:56am

    Re: Re: Re:

    warned you...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Aug 8th, 2012 @ 12:57am

    Other industries should take note

    In 1990, Kodak was worth $7 billion. Cameras used film. Photographers needed film, and lots of it, then digital photography came along; but the tech was new and the quality was low and Kodak saw it as a novelty niche. There was no real threat from digital media. $7 billion is a lot of money and the company employs a lot of people.

    Currently Kodak is worth -$1.7 billion and it's largest source of revenue was through the licensing of its patents to companies that actually leveraged the digital revolution.

    Lesson: If you do not adapt to the change in technology, there is little hope of surviving in the market.

    In related news, Apple has teamed up with Intellectual Ventures to bid on Kodak's patents (ewwww).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 8th, 2012 @ 3:29am

    Hopefully the trolls will bring the world to a halt so our politicians will actually stop and think "seems we have a problem". Sponsored by the tech companies that can't keep moving obviously.

    It's much like the MAFIAA.

    MAFIAA: Here's your pay check Senator.
    Senator: How much is it?
    MAFIAA: 50.000 neurons. I mean, dollars.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2012 @ 6:06am

    Re:

    I believe there thinking is "Hey, at least it's not Chapter 7 and we managed to put off Chapter 11 as long as we did, and the Chapter 11 is going so smoothly."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2012 @ 6:11am

    Re:

    TIL factual reporting on what the judge allowed and who will benefit from it is 'yellow journalism' and 'smearing the people involved.'

    Tell us oh wise AC, which facts in the above report are not well researched news? Is Kodak not filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy? Are they not selling their patents? Did the judge not just approve the payments totally ~$6 million in performance bonuses to roughly the top 15 executives at Kodak? Do the executives not get even bigger bonuses under the incentive structure if the patents are sold?

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2012 @ 6:14am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, they shouldn't get performance bonuses.

    Chapter. 11. Bankruptcy.

    No one said anything about stripping them of their salary, this is about performance incentives.

    Conflating performance bonuses with actual wages as if the executives need or are owed that money in a base attempt to discredit Mike is swarmy, shitty, and petty. You know you're wrong, but you do it anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2012 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, this particular AC is nothing if not predictable.

     

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  28.  
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    abc gum, Aug 8th, 2012 @ 6:20am

    Some days TD is not journalism, the next it is yellow journalism. Make up your frickin mind already.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2012 @ 7:41am

    As pissed off as I am at the execs, you really have to blame the system on this...

    People are driven by money. If you can steal/weasle $15M and get a $5M fine for it, what's the incentive to play by the rules and play fair? If you can find someone who thinks you deserve a "performance" award for failing, why not just continue to fail? There is no incentive to work/succeed when you can just work the legal system in your favor...

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Digger, Aug 8th, 2012 @ 7:58am

    Bankruptcy should mean IP goes public domain

    If a company goes bankrupt, it shouldn't be able to sell off patents, they should roll right into the public domain.

    Patents are there to give the *inventor* first rights at making a profit off of them. Then shortly after that, they are to roll into the public domain for the good of the general public. Not fall into the hands of non practicing entities for extortion.

    Courts allowing this sort of sale off of the public's property are in collusion with this extortion racket and should be brought to justice.

    Ban NPEs, ban sale of patents in bankruptcy. Watch the world become a better place.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2012 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    if the performance bonuses are part of their contracts, should they not get paid?


    Not if they didn't perform well, and that the company went bankrupt would seem to indicate that they didn't.

    My company provides quarterly performance bonuses. It's part of my contract. If I get 100% of them, they increase my gross income by about 20%. But I have to demonstrate that I have actually performed well. If I have not, or even if I have but my department or company has not, then my bonus is reduced or eliminated.

    A bonus isn't regular pay. It's a bonus, a reward, and should never be guaranteed. If it's guaranteed, then it's regular pay.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2012 @ 9:44am

    Re:

    "Yellow journalism" is apparently the new phrase that the paid trolls are being required to use. It's a particularly odd choice and a stingless insult, as TD isn't journalism at all, and specifically claims to not be journalism, so it can't be "yellow" or any other color.

    I say let them run with it. it's a harmless barb.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    Re:

    People are driven by money.


    Some people are driven by greed.

    If you can steal/weasle $15M and get a $5M fine for it, what's the incentive to play by the rules and play fair?


    Because it's the right thing to do. Most people are not greedy scumbags, and most people would not consider doing a profitable wrong just because it can be done.

    The people doing this or that think it's OK to do it have a strong sociopathic streak. They are not representative of the average person.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Aug 8th, 2012 @ 2:41pm

    Reactionary old codger.

    > I don't think anyone ever expected a patent system to benefit the public.

    The Brits did when they created theirs. Our founding fathers felt the same way.

    Patents exist to encourage the disclosure of useful trade secrets that will improve the state of the art in the industry. It's intended to improve the intellectual capital for the entire nation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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