Eastman Kodak Co., the bankrupt photography pioneer trying to sell its digital-imaging patents, said 20 parties have signed non-disclosure agreements to view confidential information and access an electronic-data room for potential bids.
Kodak asked a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in a filing to approve an auction process for more than 1,100 patents that will keep secret all bidder names and the dollar values of the bids.
The Rochester, New York-based company asked the judge to authorize a process that will result in winning bidders being announced on Aug. 13, according to a statement today by the company.
“The bidding procedures are designed to allow bidders to give us their best offers without fear of showing their cards to competitors,” Timothy Lynch, Kodak’s vice president and chief intellectual property officer, said in the statement. “In filing these proposed procedures in advance of the June 30 deadline in our lending agreement, we are moving ahead as quickly as possible with the process of monetizing our digital imaging patent portfolio.”
Kodak is selling its digital-imaging patents as part of a plan to shrink the company and focus on printing rather than photography. It had until June 30 to file the patent-bidding procedures, and today’s motion accelerates that process. Kodak’s two digital patent portfolios may be its most valuable assets -- one containing digital-capture patents and the other imaging systems and services.
The company said it has generated more than $3 billion from licensing the digital-imaging patents from users including Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics Inc., Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and Nokia Oyj.
Kodak is pursuing patent litigation before the U.S. International Trade Commission against Apple Inc., Research In Motion Ltd. and HTC Corp., alleging they infringe some of the for-sale patents. Kodak has said a victory in the case may force companies including RIM and Apple to pay for licensing and bolster the value of the patent portfolios the company is seeking to sell.
Kodak is appealing to the six-member commission in Washington, which has the power to block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents. Their decision is due in September.
Kodak hired Lazard Ltd. more than a year ago to try to find buyers for the patents. The photography pioneer that introduced the Brownie camera more than a century ago filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 19 as digital photography impaired its film business.
The case is In re Eastman Kodak Co., 12-10202, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).