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Kodak patent auction granted permission to proceed

July 4, 2012

Despite opposition from licensees and Apple, Kodak sell-off of patents given go-ahead by US court.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the auctioning of Kodak’s portfolio of around “some 1,100” patents, which carry an estimated value of $2.6 billion (€2 billion) is to proceed as planned on 8 August, despite fierce opposition from Kodak licensees who claim that they would not be protected by the sell-off and from Apple, which is fighting the company over ownership of 13 of the patents.

US Bankruptcy Court Judge Allan Gropper signed off on the auction rules on 2 July, with the 8 August auction expected to take place behind closed doors without a court-sanctioned lead bidder. However, Judge Gropper ruled that the objection restrictions are to be “scaled back” amid concerns that Kodak’s proposed rules would force him to ignore possible complaints about the auction process.

Commenting on the proceedings, Judge Gropper said: “As far as I see it, [the bidding procedures] go far beyond any procedures I’ve ever seen in a bankruptcy case with regard to power and authority they give to the debtors to do whatever the debtors want so long as the committees agree.” Kodak has allowed its official committee of unsecured creditors “reviewing creditor” status so that their consent must be given before the company is able to proceed with a winning bid.

Andrew D. Dietderich, Kodak’s attorney from Sullivan & Cromwell LLP commented that the sale rules need to emphasise that the auction was the end of the line for the case, saying “It’s important that the auction be final […] we need to be able to send a firm message that it’s over.”

There are two groups of patents due to go under auction: around 700 cover imaging technology that enable digital cameras, smartphone and tablet computers to “capture, process and transmit images”, while around 400 cover technology “used to analyse, manipulate, store and access images”.

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