John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Kodak: Maybe We Won’t Sell Our Digital Imaging Patents

Kodak is having second thoughts about selling off its digital imaging patent portfolio.

The struggling photography pioneer, which for the past year has been gearing up to sell off some 1,100 patents as part of its effort to emerge from bankruptcy, said Thursday that it may not sell some — or all — of them, after all.

“[Kodak] has not reached a determination or agreement to sell the digital imaging patent portfolio, and may retain all or parts of it as a source of creditor recoveries in lieu of a sale if it concludes that doing so is in the best interests of the estate,” the company said in a statement.

Coming as it does on the ninth day of a patent auction that was originally scheduled to end this past Monday, Kodak’s statement suggests that the process is not going as well as it had hoped.

And, indeed, sources familiar with the auction say that bids for Kodak’s digital imaging patent portfolio thus far have come in below the $2 billion the company has been angling for. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that initial bids from the two consortiums favored to win the auction — one led by Apple, the other by Google — were only about $500 million.

How much the bids have risen since then, if they’ve risen at all, isn’t clear. Kodak says it continues to have “active discussions” with potential patent buyers, and it has extended the auction in light of them. But the company clearly hasn’t yet managed to incite the sort of Nortel-style bidding-war blowout for which it had hoped. And now, with rival bidders mulling alliances that would keep bids on the portfolio low, Kodak may have lost its chance to do so.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work