Eastman Kodak Co. (EKDKQ:US), the photography pioneer that filed for bankruptcy in January, is seeking expressions of interest in its digital-imaging patents by today, the first step in an auction of the technology.
At this stage, Kodak is only determining who may want to bid on the portfolios, rather than taking formal offers, the Rochester, New York-based company said.
The ultimate price may hinge on the outcome of Kodak’s case with the U.S. International Trade Commission, which is deciding whether Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) and Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) violated patents covering image previews on cameras. Judge Thomas Pender is due to give his ruling by May 21. A decision against Apple and RIM may lead the companies to license or buy Kodak’s technology.
Chris Veronda, a spokesman for Kodak, declined to comment, as did Apple’s Steve Dowling and RIM’s Heidi Davidson.
Kodak is offloading the digital-imaging patents as part of a plan to shrink the company and focus on printing rather than photography. It has until June 30 to file the patent-bidding procedures, which typically name the bidder preferred by the seller, also known as the stalking horse. Once the stalking- horse offer is made public, other potential buyers can submit competing bids.
Kodak is selling two portfolios of patents: one related to digital capture, known as DC, and another covering the Kodak imaging systems and services, known as KISS.
Together, the technology is valued at between $2.21 billion and $2.57 billion, based on an estimate by 284 Partners LLC, a patent advisory firm hired by Kodak and cited in a debtor’s motion it filed before a U.S. bankruptcy court in January.
Envision IP, another patents adviser, estimated in March that the net present value of the two Kodak portfolios would be between $2.08 billion and $2.21 billion, “assuming that Kodak’s forecast of $250 million to $350 million in annual recurring licensing revenue is accurate.”
Kodak hired Lazard Ltd. to sell its patents last year when it was still trying to avoid default, and then retained the firm to sell its portfolio out of bankruptcy.
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