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Rival tech firms buy Kodak's digital imaging patents

Posting in Finance

Eastman Kodak Co. has sold its digital imaging patents for $525 million to a consortium organized by Intellectual Ventures and RPX Corp., in a deal aimed at pulling the company out of bankruptcy by next year.

Intellectual Ventures, a company known to buy up patents to seek licensing revenue and sue for patent infringement, will make a portion of the payment and the remaining funds will come from 12 patent licensees participating in the deal, according to terms of the agreement. RPX also buys patents.

The dozen licensees are among the world's biggest (and rival) tech and social media companies, including Google, Apple, Research in Motion, Facebook, Amazon, Adobe Systems and Microsoft, according to court filings reported by Bloomberg News. Shutterfly, HTC Corp., Huawei Technologies and Fujifilm Holdngs also were part of the group.

The move is not unprecedented. As Bloomberg notes, partnerships are common in patent sales because competitors can stave off potential infringement litigation. For example, Apple, Microsoft and RIM paid $4.5 billion of Nortel Network's more than 6,000 patents last year.

The patent sale, which included only a fraction of the Kodak's 9,000-odd patents, was a major milestone toward its successful emergence (from bankruptcy), CEO Antonio Perez said in a statement.

Under an agreement reached in November, Kodak had to sell the patents for at least $500 million in order to secure $830 million in financing to exit bankruptcy in the first half of 2013.

While the patent sale surpassed that critical $500 million, the company has said in the past they are worth substantially more. Kodak had said the patents were worth between $2.2 billion to $2.6 billion, WSJ reported at the time.

Photo: Flickr

— By on December 19, 2012, 12:42 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure