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Court approves Kodak's bid to sell patents

July 03, 2012 15:07 IST
Eastman Kodak has said the US bankruptcy court has approved its bid to sell more than 1,100 patents related to digital imaging, a move aimed at restructuring the company that once led the photography market.

"...Eastman Kodak Company obtained approval from the Bankruptcy Court to conduct an auction to sell its digital capture and Kodak Imaging Systems and Services (KISS) patent portfolios," the company said in a late night statement.

However, Apple Inc and FlashPoint Technologies Inc had objected to the auction saying they had ownership interests in a small number of the 1,100 patents in the portfolios.

The Bankruptcy Court, however, found that all of the patents in the digital-capture and digital-imaging patent portfolio are the property of Kodak.

The patents are part of Kodak's digital-capture portfolio for devices like digital cameras, smartphones, and tablets.

Kodak, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, is planning to sell its vast patent portfolios and focus its business on printing. The company had generated about 75 per cent of its revenue from digital businesses in 2011.

The company said buyers would submit bids on a confidential basis for the auction, which is expected to be held early next month.

According to media reports, Kodak sued Apple in the bankruptcy court last month alleging that iPhone maker wrongly claimed to own 10 patents arising from work the companies did together in the early 1990s.

Besides, privately held FlashPoint Technology, which Apple spun off in 1996, has also claimed ownership of the 10 disputed patents.

"The Apple and FlashPoint claims are baseless and Kodak will still seek dismissal on summary judgment in July," Kodak Vice President and Chief Intellectual Property Officer Timothy Lynch said.

"However, the 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," Lynch said.

In January, Kodak had filed for bankruptcy protection to re-organise its businesses so it can survive intense competition.

The company, which has been in existence for over 130 years, had obtained a lifeline of $950 million from Citigroup Inc early this year and expects to emerge from the restructuring in 2013 as a lean, profitable, digital imaging and materials science firm.

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