Kodak May Not Sell Digital Imaging Patents in Auction

Kodak’s patent auction promised to be one of the most exciting turning points in the ongoing patent wars, with its digital imaging patents touted to be worth billions of dollars. Kodak had put up more than 1,100 patents up for sale, with most of them related to digital imaging and image capture, processing and transmission technologies for digital cameras and smartphones.

We also saw prominent tech giants teaming up with each other to buy the patents, with the likes of Google, Samsung and RPX in one camp, and Apple, Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures in the other.

However, as the bidding progresses, it seems that Kodak may not be able to fetch what it expected to in the auction. Kodak had previously stated that the patents might be worth around $2.2 to $2.6 billion, but the current bidding rate is around $500 million.

Kodak has announced that it might decline to sell some or all of its patents if the bidding fails to push the prices up. It has already pushed the patent auction deadline twice, and may do it again to drum up interest in the auction and fetch a higher price.

Even if the auction does go through, there is no guarantee that it will be cleared by regulatory authorities due to possible antitrust issues.

Kodak filed for bankruptcy months ago, and owes nearly $1.4 billion to Citigroup and other bondholders.

via WSJ

Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung & Others Get Ready to Buy Kodak’s Patents

Just when you thought that things were cooling off, the patent wars have gotten interesting again. With the Apple vs Samsung patent mega-lawsuit starting soon, and now Kodak’s patent auctions approved, we are in for a ride!

Kodak has put up more than 1,100 patents up for sale, with most of them related to digital imaging and image capture, processing and transmission technologies for digital camera and smartphones.

These patents are expected to fetch billions of dollars, which is expected if you put up technology giants with billions of dollars in free cash and massive egos up against each other in a bidding war.

In what seems like a rehash of the Nortel patent auctions which ended up fetching $4.5 billion, Apple is teaming up with Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures, while Google is teaming up with RPX (another patent aggregation firm like IV) and Samsung, HTC and LG, the three top Android device makers.

While there could be many more bidders jumping in the fray later, these two consortiums have the most cash and are desperate to boost their patent portfolios.

Kodak, which filed for bankruptcy months ago, is counting on the cash generated through the patent sales to restructure and become a viable company again.

We’ll be tracking the auctions here at Techie Buzz. Stay tuned.

via WSJ

Kodak Fails at Patent Trolling; Loses Lawsuit Against Apple & RIM

Kodak has been in dire straits for more than a year. Ever since it filed for bankruptcy, it has been trying to somehow monetize its massive patent portfolio which covers a lot of digital imaging applications, a space which Kodak was a leader in.

It had sued a lot of mobile industry leaders like Apple, HTC, RIM and Samsung for patent infringement relating to the use of digital cameras in smartphones.

This week, it lost a patent case against Apple and Research in Motion, as the presiding judge ruled that the patent in question was invalid. The judge also ruled that neither Apple or RIM had violated any trade laws, and so no injunction could be enforced against the sale of any of their products.

The patent, which was related to previewing images with a digital camera, was one of Kodak’s most important patents. It has signed licensing deals for image previewing patents with multiple companies including Samsung and LG.

If the patent is indeed invalid, Kodak’s patent auction last month may fail, and it may not be able to raise the “billions of dollars” that it thinks its patent portfolio is worth.

Kodak has obviously stated that it will appeal the ruling. After all, its entire value depends on how much it can get from its patent portfolio now.

via WSJ

Kodak Patent Auction to Provide New Ammo in Mobile Patent Wars

Kodak, the once great but now bankrupt camera giant, has stated that a U.S. bankruptcy court has approved its bid to auction off the bundle of patents it has despite efforts by the likes of Apple to derail the sale by claiming that it has rights over some of them.

“The Apple and FlashPoint claims are baseless and Kodak will still seek dismissal on summary judgment in July. Today’s ruling provides a court-approved process allowing buyers to acquire the patents free and clear of all ownership allegations, regardless of the status of the dispute with Apple and FlashPoint at the time of closing,” said Timothy Lynch, Kodak Vice President and Chief IP Officer.

Kodak filed for bankruptcy some time ago, and is hoping that a patent sale will generate a significant amount of cash. It has nearly 700 patents related to image capture, processing and transmission technologies for digital cameras and smartphones, and some other 400 patents related to image analysis and manipulation tools.

Kodak’s business was largely disrupted first by digital cameras and then smartphones, as it failed to keep up with the times.

The patent auction will close next month, and should provide enough ammo for the next round of battles in the ongoing patent wars. We expect the auctions to see interest from major technology companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Google and others.

Kodak Sues Apple over Patent Ownership Dispute

In a new lawsuit, Kodak has accused Apple of attempting to interfere with its plans to sell off its patent portfolio. According to Reuters, the suit was filed on Monday in the U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan. Kodak has accused Apple of falsely claiming to own 10 patents related to a cooperative project between the two companies in the 1990s, the QuickTake camera.

The 10 patents that are in question are among more than 700 that Kodak is trying to sell. However, the lawsuit alleges that Apple has used “its substantial cash position to delay” the sale of those patents, and also to prevent Kodak from collecting royalties.

In addition, a defendant in the case is FlashPoint Technology Inc., which claims ownership of patents through an assignment from Apple. Earlier this year, Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and it has been reportedly said that the company has a patent portfolio potentially worth billions of dollars. The company is expected to auction its patent portfolio in early August, and to announce a winning bidder by August 13.

Kodak Files for Bankruptcy, Sues Samsung

Kodak seems to be transitioning from being one of the top technology companies, to being a mere patent troll. Kodak hasn’t been profitable since a long time, and has been on the verge of filing for bankruptcy since a couple of months now. Well, it has actually filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection now, to keep creditors at bay, while it makes some money by licensing patents from its vast patent portfolio to companies like Apple, HTC and Samsung.

We had earlier reported that Kodak had filed a patent lawsuit against Apple and HTC claiming infringement of five of its digital imaging patents. Today, Kodak filed a patent lawsuit against Samsung as well, using those same patents.

It seems likely that Kodak will be able to force these companies to license its patents, as it already has licensing agreements with LG, Motorola and Nokia for its digital imaging patents.

We expect patent licensing to become Kodak’s major, if not only, revenue stream in the coming years.

To jog your memory, here’s a list of the patents in question:

  • U.S. Patent No. 6,292,218 – “Electronic Camera For Initiating Capture of Still Images While Previewing Motion Images”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,210,161 – “Automatically Transmitting Images from an Electronic Camera to a Service Provider Using a Network Configuration File”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,742,084 – “Network Configuration File for Automatically Transmitting Images from an Electronic Still Camera”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,453,605 – “Capturing Digital Images to be Transferred to an E-Mail Address”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,936,391 – “Digital Camera with Communications Interface for Selectively Transmitting Images over a Cellular Phone Network and a Wireless LAN Network to a Destination”

Most of them are essential patents, which are in use by almost all smartphones with cameras. There is no way Samsung, HTC or Apple can dodge this bullet.

Kodak Files Patent Lawsuit Against Apple, HTC; Stock Jumps 120%

Kodak seems to be the latest entrant in the patent wars which have plagued the technology industry. It has gone after two giants – Apple and HTC – with its treasure trove of digital imaging patents, by filing patent infringement lawsuits against both of them. It is trying to get Apple and HTC to license its patent portfolio, in a last-ditch attempt to generate some much needed revenue via patent licensing.

The patents are related to digital imaging and target the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and a lot of Android devices by HTC.

Here’s a list of the patents, courtesy FOSSPatents:

  • U.S. Patent No. 7,210,161 on “automatically transmitting images from an electronic camera to a service provider using a network configuration file”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,742,084 on a “network configuration file for automatically transmitting images from an electronic still camera”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,453,605 on “capturing digital images to be transferred to an e-mail address”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,936,391 on a “digital camera with communications interface for selectively transmitting images over a cellular phone network and a wireless LAN network to a destination”
  • U.S. Patent No. 6,292,218 on an “electronic camera for initiating capture of still images while previewing motion images”

Recent reports have claimed that Kodak is preparing to file for bankruptcy. This may be its final recourse. Kodak has an extensive patent portfolio with a lot of patents that most devices with digital cameras are likely to infringe upon. It is probably trying to get some biggie like Apple or Google to buy off its patent portfolio, raising some money by way of asset sales before filing for bankruptcy.

Its stock has jumped up almost 120% in 2 days, following news of this patent lawsuit.

Kodak Stock Graph

Who Could Apple Buy to Bolster Its Patent Portfolio?

AppleThe famed patent wars in which every mobile company has been involved in the last few months, saw a very interesting twist on August 15 when Google announced that it would buy Motorola.

Google had been until recently the underdog when it came to patents with only about 2000 patents in its portfolio. Now, it came to possess one of the largest patent portfolios with over 20,000 patents and more than 7,500 pending patent applications.

Acquiring Motorola gave Google not only the means to defend Android and its hardware partners against patent lawsuits, but also its own hardware manufacturing arm and possibly a wild card entry to get back into the Digital TV business.

(Read More: Google’s Ace in the Hole: Motorola)

However, the last week hasn’t been very positive for Apple. A German court suspended Apple’s injunction which prevented Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet in the European Union, which means that the greatest threat to the iPad 2 is back on the market. Additionally, HTC filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple, seeking a ban on almost all Apple products in the U.S.

It seems that the tides have turned against Apple in less than 2 days, though we cannot know the results of any of these lawsuits for sure.

However, many analysts and industry observers seem to agree that Apple needs to further bulk up its patent portfolio. With $76.2 billion in cash, Apple can easily afford to do so.

Here are two potential acquisition targets for Apple, which are already on the block.

1. InterDigital

OK, this one is obvious. After Google lost the Nortel patent portfolio to Apple and Microsoft, rumors indicated that Google was planning to buy InterDigital which held over 8,800 patents related to wireless technology. This caused InterDigital’s stock to jump over 65% in 3 days, but now that the deal is obviously not happening, it’s already down 20%.

Anyways, Apple could probably snag InterDigital and its patents now for less than $4 billion, since Google is out of the race, assuming no one else jumps in.

2. Kodak

This is the other potential acquisition target for Apple. It may seem out of the blue, but Kodak, the camera giant of yore, has close to 1,100 digital imaging patents related to processing and storing digital images. The technology covered by those patents is likely used by almost every digital camera out there, including mobile cameras. Kodak also has loads of other patents, the combined value of which is estimated to be close to $3 billion. It has already sued Apple and RIM for infringement, so it obviously thinks that those patents hold some value.

By buying Kodak, Apple could not only get out of this lawsuit, but also demand licensing fees from other mobile companies like HTC, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.