A View from Jessica Leber
What’s Left for Kodak After Its $525 Million Patent Sale?
Now that the struggling company is exiting consumer markets, it can turn its focus to technologies that matter to manufacturers.
Eastman Kodak has finally found a buyer for its digital imaging patent portfolio for about $525 million today, as the 132-year-old company struggles to become solvent again after filing for bankruptcy protection in January. A consortium of 12 companies, including Intellectual Ventures, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, agreed to the sale.
The company that was synonymous with film and cameras, and even inspired a Paul Simon song, has already been planning to sell or end many of its consumer businesses, including in film, photo kiosks, online photo sharing, and inkjet printers.
So what’s left for Kodak?
According to Bloomberg, it still owns 9,600 patents, and will be using its portfolio to focus on commercial printing and packaging, as Kodak CEO Antonio Perez noted in an announcement today. As I wrote in a story in August (see “Unsold Patents Hint at Kodak Comeback Strategy”), the company still has the potential to commercialize new technologies that are important to manufacturing: everything from solar cells and batteries to consumer electronic products. So Kodak will no longer be a household name, but if it is successful as a smaller, more streamlined business, it could remain a relevant technology company.