The Street - "Apple, Google, RIMM: Kodak's Patent Buyers?

Eastman Kodak's digital imaging patents could be worth more than the company itself, according to a recent article ("Apple, Google, RIMM: Kodak's Patent Buyers?",, October 10, 2011).

In the article, GPC's Alexander Poltorak comments on the patents' potential value - and who the most likely buyers may be.

Article excerpt: [Patent expert] Alexander Poltorak told TheStreet he believes Kodak has a "very valuable portfolio" of patents which "will fetch a respectable price." He said that good patents are typically sold for between $200,000 and $250,000 each, though the price per patent is often lower when large portfolios are bought and sold.

Kodak CEO Antonio Perez said in late August that Kodak was in talks with potential buyers, and had signed confidentiality agreements with possible bidders for at least 1,000 Kodak patents.

By Poltorak's estimate, the portfolio could be worth around $250 million, far less than the $3 billion some analysts have forecast, though "the important question is how much are these patents exhausted, for example, how much of the market has been already licensed and what is left. This requires a careful analysis of all existing license agreements Kodak is a party to."

As for who might be working on a bid for Kodak's patents, Poltorak said Apple and Research In Motion, both of which are current defendants in Kodak lawsuits, are possible buyers. Google or HTC could also be in the game as operating companies "in need of bolstering their defensive patent portfolios."

Other potential bidders, according to Poltorak, could be non-practicing entities, or companies that would acquire the patents for the purpose of licensing them or enforcing them among unauthorized users; patent aggregators like RPX which might consider the acquisition as a means of appeasing its members; and "opportunistic hedge funds and private-equity groups interested in investing in an alternative asset class."

Poltorak said the first round of official bidding is expected in mid-October, so it's any day now.

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