Kodak loses RIM, Apple patent case: Bankruptcy recovery looks bleak

Kodak loses RIM, Apple patent case: Bankruptcy recovery looks bleak

Summary: Kodak's bounceback looks bleak after a key patent was dismissed by the U.S. ITC, throwing a spanner in the works for the doomed former photo giant.


Kodak has lost an appeal in a case which ruled that Research in Motion or Apple did not violate a patent that the former photo giant claimed it owned. 

RIM and Apple were accused of violating the patent in early 2010 in their respective smartphone platforms. The patent was designed to display still images following a picture snap on smartphones and LCD displays on digital cameras. But an appeals court heard that U.S. Patent No. 6,292,218 had not been infringed by either company and it was ruled that the patent was invalid.  

As the company continues to recover $1 billion to stave off the company's inevitable collapse, this latest ruling throws yet another wrench in the corporate machine.

Kodak has more than 1,100 patents it wants to sell, and could be be worth as much as $2--3 billion. The bankrupt company said it has generated more than $3 billion in licensing revenues since 2001, but a full-scale sell-off could layer the hole it's in with enough cash for it to climb out of.

The Rochester, New York-based photo company won the right to sell off its patents amid bankruptcy, but this latest decision may set back even that decision.

But the '218 patent is thought to be one of Kodak's most important and lucrative, and the company wants to sell off what it can, when it can, as soon as possible. It's looking for an auction date next month.

But realistically, because it was such a high revenue driver out of its vast patent portfolio, Kodak may not be able to generate enough money to get back into business without its '218 patent. 

Kodak just can't catch a break. Arguably, it probably doesn't deserve it all that much. The once proud photo giant suffered financial mismanagement which in part led to the company's bankruptcy, but also failed to innovate in the digital camera space, leaving it out in the dust while competitors and smartphone makers stormed ahead.

Topics: Patents, Government US, Tech Industry

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  • What a pity

    Once mighty company has become a patent troll to survive. Wonder who is responsible? The visionless management.
    Van Der
    • They did know

      Tell us what you'd have done with a corporate culture and billions in assets that were trimmed and optimized to do chemical research, apply emulsions to plastic films, create and manufacture molded plastic doodads to serve as carriers for the emulsion-coated films, and distribute the carriers in virtually every kind of retail outlet worldwide.

      Kodak was like a velociraptor: a consummate predator perfectly adapted to its environment. In hindsight we see that it should have morphed into a fish. Well, even if it had known that (and it did), velociraptors do not turn into fish. They just don't.
      Robert Hahn
  • What a monumentally complete management fail

    Even as late as 2009, they had opportunity enough to get back on track, but apparently "back on track" included "broken bridge over a chasm" for Kodak's management team. For those interested in a very detailed if somewhat sad timeline leading to Kodak's current sorry state, Google up "The Rise and Fall of Eastman Kodak" by Night Owl Trader.
  • If only they did..

    As late as 2007, Kodak sensors were inside the Nikon's... A few years before that most of the Japanese camera companies were on the brink of bankruptcy, because of digital photography technology. If only had Kodak taken over one the big 5 at that time and sold the film business... if only..
  • Kodak squandered what was valuable chasing what was not

    As others have mentioned, Kodak had a great chemical production and research business. Other companies which competed somewhat in the photographic business, such as BASF, were far more diversified in their chemical businesses. Kodak had the reputation and plant capacity to diversify. Kodak also had a huge and valuable photographic market presence, and the ability to deliver product one way and customers back the other. And Kodak had a significant presence in business processing, such as OCR. All of this was squandered. Digital cameras are not by themselves the cause of Kodak's downfall, because film cameras were not the totality of Kodak's business. However, film cameras became too much of the focus of Kodak management. The company had what it needed to adapt, it just chose a path which led off a cliff. By comparison, Kodak is where Apple would have been if Steve Jobs had insisted on making nothing but personal computers, riding a shrinking market share into oblivion.
  • sad too...

    Kodak point and shoot cameras are bang for the buck cameras. Their inkjet AIO devices are pretty good too (OCR, wireless scanning, etc.). Shame if it wad management that screwed this up...
    Cory Ducey