Kodak completes $525m patent sale to consortium including Fujifilm

David Ward, San Diego
Thursday, December 20, 2012

Kodak ended months of speculation by announcing it has completed a series of agreements to sell more than 1,000 digital imaging patents to a consortium for $525m.

The consortium includes 12 intellectual property licensees organized by Intellectual Ventures and Rochester, NY-based RPX Corporation, with each licensee receiving rights with respect to the digital imaging patent portfolio and certain other Kodak patents.

The licensees represents a who’s who of global tech giants, including Google, Apple, Research in Motion (RIM), Facebook, Amazon, Samsung, Microsoft, HTC, Shutterfly, Adobe Systems, FujiFilm Holdings and Huawei Technologies. Under the terms of the deal, Intellectual Ventures will split the payment with the licensees.

In a statement to PrintWeek, Kodak chief executive and chairman Antonio Perez noted the patent portfolio sale is a huge milestone in the company’s plan to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013.  "This is great news, and the sale of our digital imaging patent portfolio builds on our substantial recent progress that is giving a clear path to emergence," he said.

"We are focused entirely on what we must do to create a profitable and sustainable company that will be successful in the commercial imaging business—a business in which we enjoy distinct product and technology advantages."

The patent sale comes on the heels of several other recent major steps Kodak has taken to improve its financial situation while in bankruptcy. In October the company announced a deal with a group of its US retirees on non-pension benefits liabilities.

Still to come is the sale of its Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses.  Kodak announced the plan sale of both those divisions in August, but later suggested they may end up actually retaining them if they don’t get the right offer, which seems unlikely given the company’s stated goal of narrowing its focus down to commercial printing and supplying film to the movie business.

At one point Kodak, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, had hoped the digital imaging patents could fetch upwards of $2.6bn, but later suggested in filings that it needed a minimum of $500m for the portfolio in order to satisfy debt holders who have agreed to provide more than $800m in exit financing.

"This proposed transaction enables Kodak to repay a substantial amount of our initial DIP loan, satisfy a key condition for our new financing facility, and position our Commercial Imaging business for further growth and success," Perez said in a press release.

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