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).

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Companies: kodak

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Comments on “Execs From Bankrupt Kodak To Make Millions For Giving The Company's Patents To Trolls”

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Tunnen (profile) says:

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


Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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?

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

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).

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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…

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Digger says:

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.

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