With a value that could approach $2.6 billion, Kodak’s patent portfolio could get the bankrupt company’s debtors off its back. If only it could sell it. Unfortunately for the defunct camera maker, Apple stands in its way. In a move that’s infuriated Kodak, the Cupertino-based company has claimed ownership of key Kodak patents, effectively putting the brakes on their sale.
Specifically, Apple alleges Kodak took digital-camera technology it learned from Apple during a former partnership and claimed it for itself.
And here’s where things get really interesting: Observers say Apple might buy Kodak’s patent portfolio, so by holding up its sale and driving down its price amid the dispute, Apple could be setting itself up for a bargain-basement deal. What’s more, Kodak claims the iPad maker has infringed on several of its patents and ought to fork over more than a $1 billion in damages and royalties. But by snatching up Kodak’s patents on the cheap, Apple could avoid paying, well, anything. Besides the price of the patents, of course. After all, you can’t infringe on patents you own.
Kodak , desperate to offload its property and satisfy hungry creditors, appealed to a bankruptcy judge in a court filing Monday:
Apple’s decision to press its ownership claims now … should be seen for what it is, namely, a ploy calculated to prevent the debots from using the [bankruptcy] sale process to obtain a fair price for Kodak’s digital capture portfolio (or to enable Apple to buy it no the cheap and extinguish its infringement exposure).
Kodak asked the judge to address the matter at a June 14 hearing.