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back to article Bankrupt Kodak misses $2bn target, flogs imaging patents for $525m

Iconic camera-maker Eastman Kodak has reached an agreement to sell its portfolio of imaging patents for $525m. Patent shop Intellectual Ventures is among the buyers, and together with RPX Corporation leads a consortium of 12 unnamed licensees to buy a portion of the patents. IV, considered by critics to be a patent troll, is …

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Mushroom

Even with $2.6B

They would be doomed anyway without a decent vision. Their current "plan" is slow suicide anyway.

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Re: Even with $2.6B

Seems like a better plan (for them) would have been to devolve in to the exact kind of patent troll that they sold out to. Would give an income in the long term, with which to rebuild some kind of R&D work.

I might have read it wrong, but it sounds like everyone who might have been interetested in buying the patents (hence the $2.6B valuation) joined together and split the bill. Isn't that a form of price fixing?

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jrd

Re: Even with $2.6B

No, this isn't price fixing. It's companies learning that the strategy of bidding up the value of patent portfolios on the basis they can screw their competitors later isn't a great way to run a business. Which is a step in the right direction in my book.

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Silver badge

Re: No, this isn't price fixing.

Well I'd argue that it is price fixing. Its just that customers ganging up on a supplier doesn't appear to be illegal whereas suppliers ganging up on customers is.

The losers are all the pension funds owning Kodak shares. But then these days, anyone with a pension pot is being screwed every which way till loose...

You can bet your bottom dollar that those behind the bid don't want to see the value of patent portfolios go down. They think that their own portfolios should be worth UltraBucks or perhaps more. No here they just see the chance of getting a bargain. Protecting themselves against being the target of trolls, but even more importantly using this little pile as a weapon to stop any upstart^H^H^H^H^H^H startups from coming along and having the temerity to try getting into their cosy little business niche.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Pension funds?

Pension funds (except maybe adrenaline-junky hedge funds) have had no business owning Kodak for at least 10 years. Its continued decline has been obvious since then.

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Silver badge

Bah!

The attitude to patent farming should be the same as that held toward cybersquatting: If you have no real intended use beyond extortion, you should be forced to sell on in a certain period of time.

Personally, I reckon patents in this sort of position should expire into the public domain after a short period - say five years. That way there is still value in them to be had but not the incentive to the rapacious goings-on of late.

But of course, I am naive. Patent-farming is the new black. Wall Street has shown us the way - make nothing of value, merely suck vampirically on the effort of others, printing virtual money out of thin air. Watch out for arising circular references in the system which can bring it down around your ears, but if they happen don't worry, the government will bail everyone out of their manifest incompetence with no questions asked.

Alas poor Kodak. Doomed to the buggy-whip oubliette before they knew it was coming. End of an era.

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Unhappy

Re: Bah!

I think there is something to be said for technology companies that develop something new to be allowed to then license that- an extreme example of the right thing would be ARM. The problem of course is the troll continuum. And of course lawyers

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Silver badge

Re: Bah!

Yes there is, but the key phrase for me in your response is "develop something". I view patent farming in much the same light as I did the suing of Men at Work for two bars of the Kookaburra Song - by someone who had no hand in writing the song long after the death of the person who did.

If you develop something, you should certainly be able to license that work and revoke said license under reasonable conditions. Once you are no longer in a position to defend your patent, either because you died or because your company did (in the US companies are considered much like people in such matters) the vultures - no offence El Reg - sitting around the office while the will is read should get a limited time in which to profit from no effort or (as in his case) bargain basement prices on the patent before the work moves into the Benefit For All namespace.

I think five years is a good period because it would encourage swift, relatively low-cost licensing in order to make money while the sun shone, promoting wide adoption of whatever the patent in question covers which should make for a de facto standard when the patent expires into which low-budget entrepreneurs can play.

I'm not by any means knowledgeable in the patent law field, nor have I ever attempted to float my own entrepreneurial venture. I'm just flashing back on the absolutely brilliant maneuver by Phillips when they wanted to get the Compact Cassette made as a single standard so they could dominate the early market with their players and recorders - they made the design spec free to anyone who wanted it. (a model rejected by Video Recorder manufacturers which is why that world was a chaotic format war for a decade).

I can't speak for the rest of the world, but the American economy is built partly with the assumption of start-up entrepreneurs powering new development, and with these bloody patent farmers that is now a pipe dream.

Of course, I can also envisage ways my naive idea could be subverted in a welter of spin-off shell companies set up to guard patents from expiry. It needs fixing by law at the very core of the ideology.

Frustrated rant over. Sorry about your ears.

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interesting read accross to Nokia

Given that this has just settled for about 20% of projections, and that quite a bit of analysis on Nokia's recent value has been based upon its patent library.

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WTF?

Horrahhh for the patent trolls !

We can all look forward to higher prices for our tech and slower product development, while the morally brankrupt grave robbers drive around in nice new maseratis.

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