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Kodak to Sell Key Patents for $525 Million

Eastman Kodak Co. on Wednesday said it has agreed sell its digital-imaging patents for $525 million to help it emerge from bankruptcy protection.  

Eastman Kodak Co. (IW 500/173) on Wednesday said it has agreed sell its digital-imaging patents for $525 million to help it emerge from bankruptcy protection.

Kodak said 12 intellectual-property licensees, led by Intellectual Ventures and RPX Corp., will buy the patents.

Companies participating in the consortium buying the patents include Apple Inc. (IW 500/9), Microsoft Corp. (IW 500/15), Google, Samsung Electronics Co. (IW 1000/15), Adobe, Facebook, Amazon, Shutterfly, Research In Motion, Fujifilm and Huawei Technologies, according to court documents.

"This monetization of patents is another major milestone toward successful emergence" from bankruptcy, said Antonio Perez, Kodak's chairman and chief executive.

"Our progress has accelerated over the past several weeks as we prepare to emerge as a strong, sustainable company. This proposed transaction enables Kodak to repay a substantial amount of our initial [bankruptcy financing] loan, satisfy a key condition for our new financing facility, and position our Commercial Imaging business for further growth and success."

The U.S. photography pioneer, which filed for bankruptcy in January, said it plans to reduce its workforce by some 1,200 people, wind down sales on consumer inkjet printers and sell its consumer-film business.

Kodak intends to focus on its digital printing and enterprise unit, and on another segment including graphics, entertainment and commercial films.

The company, founded in 1892, led the way in popularizing cameras, film, slide projectors and home videos, which preserved the memories of generations of Americans and others around the world.

At its height in the 1980s, the company had 145,000 workers. But it has struggled in the age of digital cameras, and years of poor performance already had forced it to lay off thousands and close 13 manufacturing plants and some 130 processing labs since 2003.

Kodak was among the early developers of digital imaging, but lost ground to other rivals in recent years. It holds a broad array of patents in digital-camera functions and features, image-processing algorithms and network-image storage.

Kodak has licensed many of these patents, and those license agreements would continue under the patent-sale plan submitted to a bankruptcy judge, according to court documents.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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