Kodak, the brand name that has become almost synonymous with photography, is almost bankrupt. In its 131-year history, Kodak popularized photography and marketed the world’s first flexible role of film in 1888. Eastman Kodak Co. also invented the first digital camera in 1975 and developed cell phone photo technology. Now the photography giant intends to sell its patent in 1,100 digital imaging inventions to raise funds to fend off bankruptcy.
Kodak’s undoing is quite similar to that of Border’s, the retail bookstore chain. Kodak did not capitalize on its knowledge in digital photographic technology. As a result, Kodak fell behind as its cash reserves started to dwindle. Now it is faced with the prospect of putting up its patents in the open market, which analysts estimate would fetch between $2 and $3 billion.
But judging from more recent trends, the sale of the patents could fetch considerably more than just a couple of billion dollars. Digital product makers want to protect themselves from potential lawsuits, so they buy up patents. Google bought Motorola Mobility for a cool $12.5 billion not just for its mobile technology but also to own its 17,000 patents. And earlier, Microsoft and Apple joined forces to buy a suite of patents valued at $4.5 billion from Nortel Networks.
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