Judge green-lights Kodak patent sale to Apple-Google consortium


Last year, Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and came up with a plan to sell off its collection of imaging patents to pay off its debts. It wanted more than $2 billion for the IP, but ended up settling on a $525 million offer from a consortium of companies led by Apple and Google. And today, Bankruptcy Court Judge Allan Gropper has green-lighted the deal…

Reuters reports:

“Eastman Kodak Co’s proposed $525 million sale of its digital imaging patents to Intellectual Ventures and RPX Corp got a bankruptcy judge’s approval on Friday, bringing the photography innovator a step closer to exiting Chapter 11…

…Judge Allan Gropper gave his green light at a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. “We’re disappointed in the price, but we’re moving the case forward,” Gropper said.”

The consortium, spear-headed by Intellectual Ventures and RPX, included 12 tech giants: Apple, Research In Motion, Google, Samsung Electronics, Adobe Systems, HTC, Facebook, Fujifilm, Huawei, Amazon, Shutterfly and Microsoft. Each company will get licenses to the lot of 1,100+ patents that cover everything from mobile, to digital imaging inventions.

Despite the lower price, Kodak says that it’s happy with the deal and the court’s approval. It allows the company to proceed with a plan to secure $830 million in financing and exit bankruptcy in the first half of this year. “The monetization of non-core IP assets achieves one of Kodak’s key restructuring objectives while positioning its commercial imaging business for further growth and success,” the company said in a statement to Reuters.

So it looks like, for now anyway, the Kodak story isn’t over yet. And Apple, Samsung and several other tech companies just acquired significant patents that — for once — they can’t use to sue each other with, because they’re all license holders. I would say that this has turned out well for everyone involved.