Kodak sells key patents for $ 525 m

Updated 20 December 2012
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Kodak sells key patents for $ 525 m

ROCHESTER, New York: Eastman Kodak is selling its digital imaging patents for about $ 525 million, money the struggling photo pioneer says will help it emerge from bankruptcy protection in the first half of next year.
Apple Inc., Google Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., Research In Motion Ltd., Microsoft Corp., China’s Huawei Technologies, Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are among the 12 companies paying to license the 1,100 patents, according to court filings.
Patents have become very valuable to digital device makers, who want to protect themselves from intellectual property lawsuits.
But Kodak, which has been trying to make the sale happen for more than a year, wound up receiving substantially less money than had been expected.
Rochester, New York-based Eastman Kodak Co. said the patent sale will help it repay a substantial amount of a loan it received under the bankruptcy process. It also satisfies a key condition of a new, cheaper $ 830 million loan package, which required that the patents be sold for at least $ 500 million.
Founded in 1880, Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection in January after a long struggle to stay relevant. First came competition from Japanese companies, then the shift from film to digital photography over the past decade. Kodak failed to keep up. The once-mighty company, whose workforce peaked at 145,300 in 1988, said at the end of September that it expected to wind up with 13,100 employees after another round of job cuts.
Since filing for bankruptcy protection, Kodak has sold off several businesses, such as its online photo service, and said it would shut down other divisions, including the manufacturing of digital cameras.
The company intends to focus on commercial and packaging printing. It sees home photo printers, high-speed commercial inkjet presses, software and packaging as the core of its business as it emerges from bankruptcy.
Kodak began mining its patent portfolio for license revenue in 2008.
In January 2010, it sued Apple and RIM, saying that smartphone makers infringed its patent for technology that lets a camera preview low-resolution versions of a moving image while recording still images at higher resolutions.
But by July 2011, it was trying to sell its 1,100 digital imaging patents.
Analysts initially thought the portfolio could fetch between $ 2 billion and $ 3 billion.
But Kodak struggled to find a buyer.
The 12 licensees for Kodak’s imaging patents were organized by Intellectual Ventures and RPX Corp. Kodak spokesman Christopher Veronda said each licensee will pay a portion of the total cost and then have access to all the patents.
The deal also includes an agreement to settle patent-related litigation.
The sale represents “another major milestone toward successful emergence” from bankruptcy, said Antonio M. Perez, Kodak’s chairman and CEO, in a statement.
“Our progress has accelerated over the past several weeks as we prepare to emerge as a strong, sustainable company.”
Kodak will keep ownership of about 9,600 patents, focused mostly on commercial imaging and printing technologies.


Merkel seeks united front with China amid Trump trade fears

Updated 22 May 2018
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Merkel seeks united front with China amid Trump trade fears

  • Merkel seeks common ground to ward off trade war
  • Plans complicated by US policy moves

Chancellor Angela Merkel visits China on Thursday, seeking to close ranks with the world’s biggest exporting nation as US President Donald Trump shakes up explosive issues from trade to Iran’s nuclear deal.

Finding a common strategy to ward off a trade war and keep markets open will be Merkel’s priority when she meets with President Xi Jinping, as Washington brandishes the threat of imposing punitive tariffs on aluminum and steel imports.

“Both countries are in agreement that open markets and rules-based world trade are necessary. That’s the main focus of this trip,” Merkel’s spokeswoman Martina Fietz said in Berlin on Friday.

But closing ranks with Beijing against Washington risks being complicated by Saturday’s deal between China and the US to hold off tit-for-tat trade measures.

China’s economic health can only benefit Germany as the Asian giant is a big buyer of Made in Germany. But a deal between the US and China effectively leaves Berlin as the main target of Trump’s campaign against foreign imports that he claims harm US national security.

The US leader had already singled Germany out for criticism, saying it had “taken advantage” of the US by spending less than Washington on NATO.

Underlining what is at stake, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire warned the US-China deal may come “at the expense of Europe if Europe is not capable of showing a firm hand.”

Nevertheless, Merkel can look to her carefully nurtured relationship with China over her 12 years as chancellor.

No Western leader has visited Beijing as often as Merkel, who will be undertaking her eleventh trip to the country.

In China, she is viewed not only as the main point of contact for Europe, but, crucially, also as a reliable interlocutor — an antithesis of the mercurial Trump.

Devoting her weekly podcast to her visit, Merkel stressed that Beijing and Berlin “are both committed to the rules of the WTO” (World Trade Organization) and want to “strengthen multilateralism.”

But she also underlined that she will press home Germany’s longstanding quest for reciprocity in market access as well as the respect of intellectual property.

Ahead of her visit, Beijing fired off a rare salvo of criticism.

China’s envoy to Germany, Shi Mingde, pointed to a “protectionist trend in Germany,” as he complained about toughened rules protecting German companies from foreign takeovers.

Only 0.3 percent of foreign investors in Germany stem from China while German firms have put in €80 billion in the Asian giant over the last three decades, he told Stuttgarter Nachrichten.

“Economic exchange cannot work as a one-way street,” he warned.

Meanwhile, looming over the battle on the trade front is another equally thorny issue — the historic Iran nuclear deal, which risks falling apart after Trump pulled the US out.

Tehran has demanded that Europe keeps the deal going by continuing economic cooperation, but the US has warned European firms of sanctions if they fail to pull out of Iran.

Merkel “hopes that China can help save the atomic deal that the US has unilaterally ditched,” said Die Welt daily.

“Because only the giant emerging economy can buy enough raw materials from Iran to give the Mullah regime an incentive to at least officially continue to not build a nuclear weapon.”