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Kodak Theatre Must Keep Name Despite Bankruptcy, Company Says

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Bankrupt Eastman Kodak Co. shouldn’t be allowed to give up naming rights to the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, which hosts the annual Academy Awards show, the company governing the sponsorship argued.

Kodak asked a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan for permission to end the sponsorship contract, citing significant savings from the termination.

CIM/H&H Media LP, the company that assumed the contract, said in a court filing yesterday that the name recognition of the Kodak Theatre “is the precise benefit Kodak sought in entering into the 20-year sponsorship agreement” and that backing out of the agreement is “not only legally impermissible, but practically impossible.”

Kodak is obligated to pay $72 million over 20 years, CIM/H&H Media claims.

Signs on the Kodak Theatre, as well as in and around the shopping center where it is located, on street signs, freeway off-ramps, maps, and brochures, make undoing the agreement impossible, according to the filing. With the 2012 Oscars less than three weeks away, “disassociating the Kodak name from the theater before the Academy Awards show, the major event, is not practically feasible,” according to the filing.

The Kodak Theatre has hosted the Academy Awards since 2001, according to the theater’s website. The 84th awards show is scheduled for Feb. 26. Kodak, based in Rochester, New York, filed for bankruptcy last month.

Andrew Dietderich, a lawyer for Kodak, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment after regular business hours yesterday.

The case is In re Eastman Kodak Co., 12-10202, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan)

To contact the reporter on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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