Must read: The Lowballing of Kodak’s Patent Portfolio

kodak swirl

kodak swirlWhat happened when Kodak tried to sell imaging patents for $4.5 billion? “The bankrupt giant found that its huge trove of IP could fetch only pennies on the dollar,” reports the IEEE’s Spectrum.

“In January 2012, Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, having succumbed to a digital revolution in photography that it had helped to start, Spectrum says. “But the company’s managers still hoped to escape from bankruptcy and have another shot at greatness by selling part of a portfolio of patents that experts valued as high as US $4.5 billion. Eleven months later, those roughly 1700 patents (together with 655 patent applications) sold for just $94 million—less than the licensing fees Kodak had collected in its worst-ever year in recent history.”

Here’s the full story — highly recommended.

 

Ricoh to pay Kodak $76 million

pentax logog

pentax logog

To settle a legal dispute over patent licenses and royalties, Ricoh of Japan will pay Eastman Kodak about $76 million, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports.

Kodak sued Ricoh in April 2012, “claiming Ricoh was stiffing it on royalty payments due from its use of Kodak patents,” the paper says. “Among its claims were that once Ricoh bought camera maker Pentax Imaging Systems in 2011, it owed back royalties since Pentax had never signed any digital imaging licensing agreement with Kodak.”

Ricoh argued it had paid Kodak patent license agreement, and Pentax never infringed on Kodak’s patents. The case went to trial this week in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, with a jury ruling for Kodak, according to the news story.

More on the story is here.

 

On the DIMAcast: Kodak Alaris focuses on photography business

kodak alaris

 

kodak alaris

Kodak completed the final steps in its restructuring, and emerged from Chapter 11 as a reorganized company “serving imaging for business markets – including packaging, functional printing, graphic communications and professional services.”

Notice there’s no word there of the products and services we in the photography business think of when we think of “Kodak.” That’s because Kodak spun-off its Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses to the pension plan of Kodak’s U.K. subsidiary. The U.K. Kodak Pension Plan, or KPP, has created a new company, Kodak Alaris. “The new company and its name preserve the heritage and legacy of the Kodak brand,” KPP says, “while embodying greater speed and agility to meet market needs and changes.”

Personalized Imaging encompasses four businesses: Film Capture, RSS (instant photo kiosks, Apex dry labs) Paper and Output Systems, and the EIS photography services for theme parks and resorts.

Dennis Olbrich is the new president of the Personalized Imaging business. Olbrich began his career at Kodak in Film and Paper Process Engineering, and has served as, among other positions, the worldwide director for digital cameras and devices.

In this episode of the DIMAcast, he tells us what the imaging industry can expect from the leaner, more nimble new company.

Download or subscribe to the podcast here.

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Kodak sells Personalized Imaging — to its UK pension plan

kodak kiosk

kodak kiosk

All right, this is something of a surprise: When Kodak announced it was selling off its Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses, no one predicted that the buyer would be the company’s own pension plan.

But it’s not the retirees in Rochester who are the new owners of their former business — it’s those in the United Kingdom, strangely enough… and they didn’t buy it.

Instead the transfer is a settlement: the U.K. Kodak Pension Plan was the largest creditor in Kodak’s Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization.

The new agreement will be filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and will spin off the imaging business to KPP, “for cash and non-cash consideration of $650 million,” Kodak says. The agreement also settles approximately $2.8 billion of claims by KPP.

“This acquisition provides security for and delivers the greatest value to, the KPP members,” KPP said. “Overall, this settlement gives the KPP members greatly improved future prospects whilst being good for Kodak’s employees, its creditors and for UK businesses. The businesses that we are acquiring will deliver long-term cash flows to support the plan’s obligations. The financial stability that KPP will provide for the Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses will be beneficial to those businesses’ employees, customers and partners.”

The Personalized Imaging business provides retail photo kiosks and dry lab systems, traditional photographic paper, still-camera film products, and the event imaging solutions for theme parks and other venues.

Kodak will focus on its Commercial Imaging business.

 

Kodak to sell Document Imaging biz to Brother

brother

 

brother

Brother, can you spare a… stalking horse bid? Is that how that saying goes?

Kodak reports it’s agreed to sell printer maker Brother Industries assets of its document imaging business for approximately $210 million.

Brother will also get stuck with a “deferred service revenue liability” totaling $67 million.

Kodak says its Document Imaging business “provides a comprehensive portfolio of scanners, capture software and services to enterprise customers.” Consummation of the transaction with Brother is subject to court approval and a marketing period in which Kodak may seek to obtain a higher or better offer for the business, alone or in combination with other businesses, including through a court-approved auction. Under the terms of the agreement, Kodak will seek U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval of the bidding procedures at a hearing in late April and is targeting final court approval of a transaction in June.

 

Kodak to market memories

kodak kiosk

 

kodak kiosk

Our ol’ pal Gary Pageau spoke with executives from Kodak at PMA@CES earlier this month, and reported on those talks over at Kiosk Marketplace.

Kodak says its been meeting with potential buyers for its photography business, “and there’s been a handful who have come forward that are very interested in the business.” An auction is set for March.

By June of 2013, the personalized imaging component of Kodak would be separate from Kodak, as an ongoing organization with new owners. That business includes 106,000 kiosk units installed.

Kodak went into bankruptcy last year and is selling off its personal imaging business; it’s sold its digital imaging patent portfolio for $527 million, and recently won approval for a financing deal worth $843.7 million.

Read more on Kodak’s plans for future print products here.

 

Kodak licenses its brand to new camera maker

Kodak

kodak brand

The next time you buy a Kodak camera, it might be in name only: the Rochester company, now in bankruptcy/reorganization, has licensed its logo to an unknown manufacturer that will brand a slate of new models later this year.

While Kodak says “the JK Imaging team has global experience and expertise in the industry,” the new company is not exactly a household name in the photography business — which of course is why it might benefit from using the iconic yellow and red logo. “Kodak remains a strong and trustworthy brand in the consumer space and this agreement reinforces how valuable our brand is,” the company says.

JK Imaging agrees “there is great significance and value in the Kodak name.”

Kodak announced its plan to exit the digital camera business last year — and started off this one with a multi-year agreement that lets JK Imaging license the Kodak brand name for certain consumer products, including digital cameras, pocket video cameras, and portable projectors.

JK Imaging, Ltd. reports its is a privately held company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. It is run by the chairman of JA Capital Holdings, which says it is “a global supplier specializing in consumer imaging and electronics products.”

JK Imaging plans to launch its first products in the second quarter of 2013.

At a news conference in China, JK reportedly announced plans to market a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with the Kodak brand.

Photo Counter Australia investigates more on the deal here.

 

Apple, Google to co-purchase Kodak imaging patents?

apple iPhone 5

Apple and Google teamed to offer more than $500 million to buy Kodak’s  imaging patents, Bloomberg reported late last week.

With their  leading smartphone operating systems, iOS and Android, the two companies have dominant positions in mobile imaging, and doubtless would rather not face patent infringement claims from any potential rival buying Kodak’s intellectual property.

It’s not an uncommon move: Apple worked with Microsoft and Research in Motion to acquire 6,000 patents for $4.5 billion from bankrupt Nortel Networks last year.

Kodak, in the midst of bankruptcy and reorganization, seeks to sell 1,100 imaging patents.

Kodak has claimed the patents may be worth more than $2 billion, but others counter the patents are already too widely licensed to be of much further value.

More on the story is here.

 

Kodak, CVS extend retail relationship

kodak logo 11-12

Relax, you’ll continue to be able to pick up prints and prescriptions at one location: Kodak announced it’s extended its relationship with CVS/pharmacy through 2016, adding that the four-year “extension of our relationship is great news for both companies, and for consumers who enjoy our services.”

CVS operates 7,400 stores across the U.S. and is the largest customer of Kodak’s Retail Systems Solutions business, Kodak says, with more than 15,000 Kodak kiosks in its stores.

As part of the agreement, CVS will upgrade and expanding its APEX dry lab systems, which Kodak says “provide a more economical way for retailers to produce photo products, improve profitability, reduce their environmental footprint, and expand their customer offerings.”

 

Kodak color filter creator Bryce Bayer passes

bryce-bayer2

Almost every camera still uses his invention: Kodak scientist Bryce Bayer developed the color filter for digital imaging, patented in 1976; he passed away on November 13 at age 83, reports the Imaging Resource.

Sensors capture only grayscale; a beam splitter and three imagers were required for color photography before Bayer’s array of red, green, and blue filters that, layered atop the sensor, let one chip capture color — a system that could eventually fit inside a compact camera.

More on the story is here.