Kodak to Sell Imaging Units as Patent Auction Continues

Bankrupt photography pioneer Eastman
Kodak Co. (EKDKQ)
said it will sell its consumer film, photo kiosks and
commercial scanner businesses as it continues an extended effort
to auction its digital-imaging patents.

Lazard Ltd. (LAZ) is advising on sales of the units, known as
personal imaging and document imaging, which are targeted for
completion in the first half of 2013, the Rochester, New York-
based company said yesterday in a statement. The transactions
would leave Kodak selling consumers only inkjet printers, and
film only to commercial customers including the movie industry.

The patents for sale relate to the capture, manipulation
and sharing of digital images while the kiosks include those
used by consumers and by theme parks to capture passengers on
rides. Kodak is selling the imaging units and patents to fund a
turnaround after seeking Chapter 11 protection in January. At
the same time, it’s pursuing a plan to shrink the company and
focus less on photography and more on commercial, packaging and
functional printing and enterprise services.

“We have to make some tough choices to build our future
and this is one of those choices,” Chief Executive Officer
Antonio Perez said yesterday on a conference call. “Kodak’s
goal is not simply to emerge but obviously to emerge as a
profitable, sustainable company and today’s actions are moving
us decisively along that path.”

Perez is pushing ahead with the digital patents sale amid
legal fights with device makers, including Apple Inc. (AAPL), over the
ownership and validity of some of the patents. As bidding
continued beyond initial deadlines, Kodak has said it may not
sell the patents if retaining them is “in the best interests of
the estate.”

Portfolio Decision

“The company reiterates that it has made no decision to
sell the portfolio and Kodak may, in consultation with
creditors, retain the portfolio as an alternative source of
recovery for creditors,” Kodak said yesterday.

In court documents, Kodak has said the patents may be worth
$2.21 billion to $2.57 billion, based on an estimate by patent
advisory firm 284 Partners LLC. Kodak said it has generated more
than $3 billion in revenue by licensing some of the digital-
imaging patents to users, including Samsung Electronics Co., LG
Electronics Inc. (066570), Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Motorola Mobility unit and Nokia
Oyj. (NOK1V)

Path ‘Clearer’

“The path to emergence is becoming clearer for us,” Perez
said on the call. “Our patent auction continues, and we are
still engaged in discussions around the potential sale of our
digital imaging portfolio. Going in we expected this to be a
complex process and it has been all of that and more.”

Apple is appealing a bankruptcy judge’s ruling in favor of
Kodak that blocked the iPhone maker’s claims to two patents.

Apple said in an Aug. 22 court filing that it’s challenging
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper’s decision that gave Kodak a
partial victory in a lawsuit over ownership of 10 patents. Kodak
sued Apple (AAMRQ) after the Cupertino, California-based company
asserted claims to the patents.

Gropper ruled in favor of Kodak on two of the patents,
saying Apple waited too long to assert its claims. The judge
denied Kodak’s request for a pretrial ruling known as summary
judgment on the eight other patents and said Kodak could renew
its request.

“Apple believes a prompt appeal of this order is necessary
in view of the prospect that Kodak will seek to sell the patents
at issue free and clear of Apple’s interests prior to full
adjudication of Apple’s appeal,” Brian Lennon, an attorney for
Apple, wrote in a letter to Gropper.

Stefanie Goodsell, a Kodak spokeswoman, didn’t comment
yesterday on Apple’s appeal.

Signed Agreements

Kodak said in June that 20 parties had signed agreements to
view confidential information ahead of potential bids. The
identities of unsuccessful bidders will be kept secret under
auction rules.

Kodak and its creditors agreed to extend the auction
deadline beyond Aug. 13 “in light of continuing discussions
with bidders” without providing a revised target date.

Kodak filed for bankruptcy after years of burning through
cash while digital photography eroded its film business. The
company had spent $3.4 billion on restructuring before
bankruptcy, including payouts to fire 47,000 employees since
2003, closing 13 factories that produced film, paper and
chemicals, and 130 photo laboratories.

The bankruptcy case is In re Eastman Kodak Co., 12-10202,
U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York
(Manhattan). The Apple case is Eastman Kodak Co. v. Apple Inc.,
12-01720, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York
(Manhattan).

To contact the reporters on this story:
Beth Jinks in New York at
bjinks1@bloomberg.net;
David McLaughlin in New York at
dmclaughlin9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jeffrey McCracken at
jmccracken3@bloomberg.net;
John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net.

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