Kodak Planning To File For Bankruptcy In Order To Sell Off Its Patents

from the what-a-legacy dept

We’ve noted that Kodak, as its business prospects have continued to dim, has become much more aggressive in suing over patents. This is a traditional path for failing legacy businesses. When you’re young, you innovate. When you’re old, decrepit and tied to an outdated technology/mode of business… you litigate (and legislate). However, with the valuation of patent portfolios rocketing up over the last year (see Nortel & Motorola for examples), there have been rumors for a long time that the best thing Kodak could do for its investors (if not the general public or the economy) is to give up the ghost and sell off its patents to the highest bidder. And, that appears to be the plan. Lots of reports are claiming that the company is about to declare bankruptcy to make it possible to sell those patents. Apparently some potential buyers were worried about how there might be problems buying the patents without a bankruptcy:

Some potential bidders for the patents are wary of proceeding because a purchase may amount to a so-called fraudulent transfer if Kodak is insolvent, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. Kodak confirmed that it hired Jones Day to advise it on considering options and said it doesn?t plan to seek bankruptcy protection.

While that article quotes someone at Kodak saying no decision has been made, other reports suggests that it’s only a matter of when, not “if.” I have no doubt that Kodak’s patents will sell for quite a bit. Having seen what happened with Nortel, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a similar insane bidding war, in which various tech companies feel compelled to waste a ton of money that could have gone towards actually innovating and developing cool new products, to buy these patents to lump into a portfolio either to protect against other patent suits, or to use aggressively against other companies. I fail to see how any of this helps innovation in any way. It seems to reward failure.

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Comments on “Kodak Planning To File For Bankruptcy In Order To Sell Off Its Patents”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Kodak,one more company destroyed by piracy.

No, No, NO, NO!!!!

Kodak and camera manufacturers thrive off of piracy. People use them to record movies in theaters and they use them to steal protected works. THAT’S STEALING AND BECAUSE OF THAT CAMERA MANUFACTURERS ARE GUILTY AND SHOULD BE DECLARED ROGUE AND FORCED OUT OF BUSINESS!!!! If it weren’t for piracy, they couldn’t exist anyways. Pirates!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Kodak,one more company destroyed by piracy.

It’s more than just theaters. Just about everything photographers have ever taken photos were made by somebody else, and thus they commit copyright infringement. Taking photos of buildings or the NYC skyline? Copyright infringement unless you got permission from every architect and every owner of every building in the shot. Taking photos of people? Copyright infringement unless you got permission from every clothing manufacturer who made the clothes they wear. Taking photos inside your home? Copyright infringement unless you get permission from every producer of every piece of furniture in the house.


pr (profile) says:

Re: Kodak,one more company destroyed by piracy.

It’s the freetards, mostly. They post a picture of the Grand Canyon on the interwebs, then I don’t have to go to the Grand Canyon and take my own Kodachromes.

Google and Wikipedia should be taxed to support Kodak, General Motors, and American Airlines, all of whom suffer from this disturbing state of affairs.

Anonymous Coward says:

film still an important niche market

Kodak is still among the top industry experts when it comes to analog film technology. There’s no low cost digital substitute for a quality microfilm with a 300 year shelf life. It’ll be a shame if they go under. I hope they can make it through this. There’s still money to be made in their arena.

Steph (user link) says:

Does everything HAVE to further innovation?

“I fail to see how any of this helps innovation in any way.”

Not everything has to further innovation, even in the tech sector. Can’t it just be about pure business strategy, on both ends? Kodak sells the only thing that’s valuable in their company anymore. The buyer(s) get a patent or set of patents that they can use to innovate with if they choose, or use to defend against trolls if they choose.

I like you Mike, but it doesn’t always *have* to be about making the world a better place. Sometimes, it can just be about making the world a different place.



abc gum says:

Re: Does everything HAVE to further innovation?

“The buyer(s) get a patent or set of patents that they can use to innovate with if they choose, or use to defend against trolls if they choose”

If one could use said patents to innovate as you suggest, why is it that Kodak is/was unable to do this themselves? fwiw, the “lack of talent” argument will not hold water.

A patent portfolio is not similar to real life infrastructure like buildings or office furniture which can easily be sold and put to good use elsewhere. It is only a business strategy because of the artificial market.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Does everything HAVE to further innovation?

“I like you Mike, but it doesn’t always *have* to be about making the world a better place.”

“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

Sorry, but I’m going to go with the U.S. Constitution on this one. It does have to be about promoting progress or “making the world a better place.” Using the strictest reading of the constitution you shouldn’t be able to buy or sell “IP rights”. Besides if the IP passed into the public domain then the “buyer” could use the information in the patents to innovate and save a bunch of money, so the only reason to purchase the patents is to troll or defend against trolling. Do you really consider that a “business strategy” worthy of preservation?

A Conservative Teacher (user link) says:

Kodak follows GM

This is a shame, especially coming so soon after the bankruptcy and death of General Motors Corporation, which died this past December (it is survived by General Motors Company). I wrote about this in my post RIP General Motors Corporation and American Capitalism, found at http://aconservativeteacher.blogspot.com/2011/12/rip-general-motors-corporation-and.html

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Kodak and patents

Again, “pegging” on an extreme position.

Large entity patents, which have become synonymous with patent abuse, IMHO, are indeed a problem. In fact, I totally agree with you that they inhibit innovation and harm the economy.

However, it is a ridiculous stretch to say “all patents are bad” as a consequence. That is like saying “if you are lost in the ocean, you will drown, so water is bad”.

Filing for bankruptcy (user link) says:

Filing for bankruptcy

A Bankruptcy wipes out all a person’s eligible debts usually within nine months. In the vast majority of cases the debtor has no assets that he or she would lose. Bankruptcy gives a person a relatively quick “fresh start”.

Bankruptcy in Canada should only be a last resort. Common reasons for Canadian bankruptcy are job loss, excessive student loan debt, or medical expenses. We understand that problems like these are sometimes unavoidable. however, if bankruptcy is the right solution for you, your bankruptcy trustee will guide you through the process.

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