Eastman Kodak Company announced that it is “exploring strategic alternatives related to its digital imaging patent portfolios, a move reflecting the current heightened market demand for intellectual property.”
Does this mean they’re going to try to leverage their patent portfolio against other competitors in lawsuits? Can you say “patent troll”? Some people think that maybe they will be putting their patent portfolio up for sale to help their cash flow.
Does anybody still use film cameras? I can’t remember the last time I printed up some of the pictures that I’ve taken with my digital camera. Because of dwindling film sales, Kodak has become more aggressive about licensing its patents.
Since 2008, it has generated almost $2 billion in licensing fees and royalties from intellectual-property battles, both in negotiations and the result of Patent infringement lawsuits.
Wednesday’s announcement comes while Kodak is suing Apple Inc. and Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), the maker of the BlackBerry phones, saying their phone camera features infringe on some of its patents.
The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) recently issued a favorable ruling in Kodak Patent Case against Apple and RIM. The ITC rejected a counterclaim by Apple that Kodak cameras infringe on Apple patents.
Eastman Kodak Co. (EK) shares have rebounded slightly as a result of this announcement and are currently selling for $2.50.
But today’s price is close to Kodak’s lowest level in more than 30 years.
Kodak’s portfolios include more than 1,100 U.S. patents pertaining to capturing, processing, storing, organizing, editing, and sharing digital images, as well as imaging monetization applications, which are fundamental to the digital imaging industry.
Those patents represent approximately 10% of Kodak’s patent portfolio.
Kodak has retained Asset management firm Lazard LLC as its adviser in how to employ this new patent portfolio strategy.
“Given recent trends in the marketplace for intellectual property, we believe the time is right to explore smart, opportunistic alternatives for our digital imaging patent portfolios,” said Laura G. Quatela, Kodak’s General Counsel and a Senior Vice President of the company. “This effort reaffirms our commitment to the three pillars of our intellectual property strategy – design freedom, access to new markets and partnerships, and cash generation.”
Kodak invented the digital camera and since then has pioneered many of the major advances in digital imaging devices, systems and services. The company’s portfolios of more than 1,100 digital imaging patents – plus foreign counterparts and related patent applications – comprise the world’s richest collection of imaging-related technology.
I wonder if they really want to sell 10% of their patent portfolio off or just use it as a weapon against all its competitors to start a series of patent infringement lawsuits?