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Kodak Patents Sold for $525 Million 117

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the doctor-strangelove dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Intellectual Ventures and RPX Rational Patent, two companies frequently referred to as patent trolls, have snapped up the troubled Kodak company's imaging patents. Bloomberg reports that Kodak has agreed to sell the patent portfolio for $525 million, despite previous valuations of over $2 billion." New submitter speedplane adds "How many stories have we read hating on the biggest patent troll of them all? Finally we see Intellectual Ventures making their case in a Wired op-ed, filled with everything you would would expect from a company suing the tech world on thousands of dubious patents: '...the system needs intermediaries within the market — companies like Intellectual Ventures — to help sift through and navigate the published landscape. By developing focused expertise, these patent licensing entities and intermediaries can function as patent aggregators, assembling portfolios of relevant inventions and providing access through licensing.' And my favorite gem: 'Ultimately, the users of those products — you — are the ones who benefit.'"
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Kodak Patents Sold for $525 Million

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  • by alen (225700) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @02:09PM (#42338119)

    IV is just taking money from someone to buy them up and license them out to the investors

    i've read that apple and google were going to jointly buy these. chances are that they just gave money to IV just to have a neutral third party hold them

    • by meerling (1487879) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @02:26PM (#42338273)
      Yeah, that's like saying a hyena and a lion were going to have a leopard hold the dead antelope they both want to eat.
    • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @02:45PM (#42338465) Journal

      To be fair, yeah, basically IV's fluffy marketing has a point. They're assholes, but they provide the service to the tech industry that they claim: the industry invents, patents, then sells their patents and gets to capitalize on the invention without the logistics of capitalizing on the invention. They lose their defense, though--they can't cross-license with these patents anymore.

      Really though think about it. You have either companies A and B trying to crush each other and all other competition with their patent portfolios, stalemating each other but keeping all small entrants out of the market; or you have companies A and B selling to company C, who uses Company B's patents to bleed money out of A and company A's patents to bleed money out of B (each sells with provision of having a license to their own technology), and also crushes all small entrants. Same shit, different day.

      • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @07:36PM (#42342729) Journal

        Or you just go to China that don't give a fuck or play these little reindeer games to get your stuff built and let 'em sue a phony shellcorp you set up to take all the losses as a tax dodge.

        Don't learn from history yadda yadda the reason the west took off during the industrial revolaution is we didn't care about the old world patents and copyrights, this let our inventors stand on the shoulders of giants and build better tech. Now the USA is completely crippled by the blood sucking lawyers so its all gonna end up in Asia where they will learn by standing on the shoulders of giants to make even better tech. Hell look at the Loongson dragon CPU, here you have a MIPS CPU that has hardware accelerated X86 emulation through Bochs so you can have the long battery life of MIPS and get to have your X86 apps at nearly 85% native speed!

        But not only can you NOT build that in America, hell you can't even import that into America but Intel owns X86 and won't license under FRAND so that is that.This is why Asia will be the next to rule the roost, they can come up with truly novel ideas without getting cockblocked or sued into the next life by the blood sucking lawyers. Its a damned shame but what do you expect when a country is ass deep in lawyers and all the politicians are lawyers but a lawyer's paradise?

        • by Guppy (12314)

          Hell look at the Loongson dragon CPU, here you have a MIPS CPU that has hardware accelerated X86 emulation through Bochs so you can have the long battery life of MIPS and get to have your X86 apps at nearly 85% native speed!

          Sounds like a good opportunity for AMD or VIA/IDTI, who have such x86 licenses.

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            Via is a corpse, all they make is a few embedded products and its damned near impossible to get your hands on the Nano because they make so few of them. As for AMD...wanna know what REALLY happened at AMD? One of the engineers off on a far flung section of the net spilled the beans about what was REALLY going on at the company and before Bulldozer even came out laid out all the failures AMD was gonna have, you can read it for yourself right here [insideris.com]. Basically they ended up with a CEO and board that didn't give

            • Yup, all made possible due to the financial regulations, and fiat currency, those same people had the politicians in Washington enact.

              The ban on insider trading actually allows this sort of thing. If you were that engineer and saw what the CEO was doing, what would you do with your shares of stock, that you had probably built up over the course of working there for years? You'd dump them ahead of the CEO because you didn't want to get caught holding the bag. Everyone in your position of insider knowledge
              • by hairyfeet (841228)

                If you haven't seen it yet Crosshair here is a video on the stock market [youtube.com] I think you'll enjoy as he points to many of the same issues you have only he takes it farther, he believes there is gonna be a massive crash and I have to agree.

                Since the early 80s the laws have been SOOOO far tilted to favor the interests of the Street it has allowed a massive bubble to be blown (430% GDP, compared to 125% GDP before the great 29 crash) and it has created a truly toxic market, where companies can burn the buildings d

    • "Neutral" third party? Maybe you missed the "patent troll" thing. I'd explain it to you, but it might require some words with more than four or five letters, and I'd probably lose you after the first few sentences.

      • by hackula (2596247)
        Say you have a competitor. Also say I am a thief and steal your money. That gives your competitor an unfair advantage. To have a healthy, competitive, and fair marketplace, I need to steal from BOTH of you. IP law logic 101.
  • by alen (225700) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @02:13PM (#42338157)

    i read the article and 12 companies are fronting the money for this with the ownership split between 2 holding companies

    apple, google, facebook, and others are the ones buying up the patents. IV and RPX are just the holding companies to avoid nasty lawsuits about licensing terms

    • by Smallpond (221300)

      i read the article and 12 companies are fronting the money for this with the ownership split between 2 holding companies

      apple, google, facebook, and others are the ones buying up the patents. IV and RPX are just the holding companies to avoid bad publicity about licensing terms

      FTFY

    • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @02:45PM (#42338457)

      I don't think we have the same definition of open source. For one, IV and RPX are about as closed source as you can get - you can't even buy the things from them that they are suing over. At least Microsoft gives you something before it locks you into its OS or product suite. Furthermore, there's gotta be something in this for IV and RPX. Their lawyers don't get out of bed for less than 7 figures. As best as I can figure, the companies that bought the patents have perpetual license rights to them, and IV and RPX can sue everybody else for eleventy hojillion dollars for anything having to do with taking, storing, transforming and thinking about a picture.

      On the upside, maybe the losers in the bidding war will lobby Congress to get IV and RPX off of their back.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I think you're confusing free and open. Patents are by definition open source. The patent is view able by anyone at no cost. They can even distribute it. What they can't do is sell or make available tech based on the patent unless the patent holder or a patent licensee with that right says they can.

    • by Pseudonym (62607)

      apple, google, facebook, and others are the ones buying up the patents. IV and RPX are just the holding companies to avoid nasty lawsuits about licensing terms

      Reading between the lines, IV and RPX are being used as holding companies to avoid nasty lawsuits against Apple, Google and Facebook about other IV- and RPX-held patents.

      If you can't beat 'em...

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @02:20PM (#42338215) Journal

    The complexity, and getting-sued risk, of tech patents are just so high that we need good, honest, businessmen like Intellectual Ventures to help us sort it all out for a small fee...

    Seriously, you know that you are a morally bankrupt fucker when you are the one making that argument in your favor. Sure, in countries with shitty regulatory environments and 'rule of law' that exists largely as a punchline, you have a class of professional 'fixers', who know how to make things happen when provided with a suitable supply of grease for the correct palms, along with a supply of thugs to which you can pay for 'protection' to ensure that bad things don't happen. Those, though, at least have the decency to keep their mouths shut, and recognize that they are a symptom of a sick, dysfunctional system. IV has the audacity to argue that needing to hire a fixer and pay protection money for the privilege of selling a product without being nuked into a smoking crater is a good thing. Where is the osteosarcoma fairy when we need her?

    • Sure, in countries with shitty regulatory environments and 'rule of law' that exists largely as a punchline, you have a class of professional 'fixers', who know how to make things happen when provided with a suitable supply of grease for the correct palms, along with a supply of thugs to which you can pay for 'protection' to ensure that bad things don't happen.

      Like in the American patent system? --Braces for down-modding--

    • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @02:45PM (#42338471)

      The complexity, and getting-sued risk, of tech patents are just so high that we need good, honest, businessmen like Intellectual Ventures to help us sort it all out for a small fee...

      Why didn't they just name this company Intellectual Vultures? I would at least respect them for their honesty if they did.

  • no one benefits (Score:2, Interesting)

    by alienzed (732782)
    when greed wins. What has the world come to when we openly reward those who thrive on preventing anyone from benefiting from human progress unless they themselves can derive unearned profit from it?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes. The alternative of Kodak laying off tens of thousands of people would definitely please RMS and yourself. Please go drink gasoline.

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @02:25PM (#42338249) Homepage Journal

    What Intellectual Ventures is trying to do (as they suggest) is create a patent environment where at least the relevant property can be bought/sold for proper licensing purposes. Consider instead the model where the Apples or Microsofts of the world hold patents and refuse to license (or do so reluctantly and at an extorted price) and ask yourself which you prefer. If reform isn't coming (and no signs would suggest that it is) then this might be the lesser of two evils.

    Or maybe not, who knows.

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      Just curious, but when has Microsoft refused top license something?

      ..or were you just talking out your ass there?

      It seems to me that Microsoft is the opposite of Apple in the sense that instead of refusing the license their patents, they go overboard in the other direction and browbeat companies into licensing their patents.

      But hey, why be accurate, right? No point being accurate.. being right and shit is for suckers.
      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        Sorry Steve Ballmer, didn't mean to belittle all that good work you are doing over there...

      • by tgd (2822)

        Just curious, but when has Microsoft refused top license something?

        But hey, why be accurate, right? No point being accurate.. being right and shit is for suckers.

        You're exactly right. Microsoft spends nearly $10b a year in pure research, and loves licensing patents on that research. They make a significant chunk of revenue on patents on a ton of things -- not just hardware and software. And they're very aggressive about cross-licensing. That's why the amount MS makes off an Android phone varies by manufacturer -- the license costs cover just the value imbalance of the cross-licensed portfolios. (As they should!)

        That's how technology companies have worked since they

        • Except... I don't know which innovations Microsoft is getting paid for on Android.

          The practice of how patents work is not broken you are correct. What is broken is the types of patents that can be made. For example, patenting a one-click button to purchase an order off a website (remember that fiasco?), seems to badly fail the non-obvious requirement. Likewise, touch gestures have been in movies years before MS & Apple started patenting them.

          This is the key problem. Microsoft has not contributed (from w

          • by tgd (2822)

            This is the key problem. Microsoft has not contributed (from what I can tell) any useful advice, experience, designs or code to Android. So no, in my book, they deserve not a red cent of profit from the Android markets.

            That's a pretty ignorant position to take, lacking even a single bit of information on the subject. That's simply an attempt at "I know what I want to think, and I'll try to talk like its a rational position".

          • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

            The removable SD card uses FAT so it can be used on 90% of the computers out there. There are other ones, but that is apparently the hardest one to work around.

    • Consider instead the model where the Apples or Microsofts of the world hold patents and refuse to license...

      Intellectual Ventures is a "holding company" that represents - yes - Apple, Facebook, Google, and several other *BIG NAME* "players".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Patents are temporary monopolies / permission slips granted by the governments. Some of you out there like the government because you like having to deal with only one thug. People bitching about IV are hating the player, not the game.

    In a truly free society, government wouldn't exist, and companies like IV wouldn't exist either. Both are provably unnecessary, and create higher prices for all.

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @02:29PM (#42338293)

    I have been threatened by a patent troll, Acacia Research Group [acaciatechnologies.com], several times. They didn't invent CDROMs or HTML, but they acquired a patent for putting HTML on a CDROM. They threatened to sue me for doing the same. I was doing it before the date of their patent, so I figured I had prior art. So I decided on the following course of action: do nothing. I filed their letter, and ignored them. A few months later they sent me a more threatening letter. I ignored that one too.

    Several years later, I received another letter from them about another dubious patent they claimed I was violating. I wasn't, and figured they were just fishing, so I ignored that letter too.

    Then, years after that I received another threatening letter about the original "HTML on CDROM" patent. This was after the KSR International v Teleflex [wikipedia.org] Supreme Court ruling that invalidated these kinds of "combination" patents. So again I decided to just ignore them. I never heard from them again.

    So if you are threatened by a patent troll, my recommendation for an initial response , is to just ignore them. My experience is that works 100% of them time, but YMMV. They probably have no reason to believe you are actually violating their patents, are are just shotgunning letters out to a long list of target companies, in the hopes that there are some dufuses that will just roll over a offer to settle. If everyone ignores them are much as possible, and impedes their attempts to extort, then their business model falls apart.

  • For only $550M, why didn't Google buy the patents? That's pocket change for them (even for Sergey personally), and I'm sure Android infringes on one or more of the patents. Google could indemnify all Android manufacturers and software developers.

    • by Hes Nikke (237581) <slashdot@gotnate . c om> on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @02:42PM (#42338429) Journal

      For only $550M, why didn't Google buy the patents? That's pocket change for them (even for Sergey personally), and I'm sure Android infringes on one or more of the patents. Google could indemnify all Android manufacturers and software developers.

      -- or --

      For only $550M, why didn't Apple buy the patents? That's pocket change for them (even for Cook personally), and I'm sure iOS infringes on one or more of the patents. Apple could indemnify all iOS manufacturers and software developers.

      -- or --

      For only $550M, why didn't Microsoft buy the patents? That's pocket change for them (even for Balmer personally), and I'm sure Windows infringes on one or more of the patents. Microsoft could indemnify all Windows manufacturers and software developers.

      Do you see the problem yet? you'd have yourself a bidding war for a patent portfolio valued at $2 billion.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        Because it would have went to a bidding war. Kodak would have made out, but $550 divided by google apple facebook et all is much cheaper than google and apple in a bidding war.

    • by hAckz0r (989977)

      why didn't Google buy the patents?

      They did. Did you read the article?

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        why didn't Google buy the patents?

        They did. Did you read the article?

        This is Slashdot, of course not.

        Besides, why would I read the article when the summary is quite clear about the purchasers:

        "Intellectual Ventures and RPX Rational Patent, two companies frequently referred to as patent trolls, have snapped up the troubled Kodak company's imaging patents.

        • by mordenkhai (1167617) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @03:15PM (#42338801)
          As usual the summary tells a tiny bit and its not the whole story so from the article here is your answer:

          A group including Apple Inc. (AAPL), Google Inc. (GOOG) and Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) agreed to buy patents from bankrupt Eastman Kodak Co. for about $525 million, gaining the right to use the digital technology to capture and share photos.

          The group is led by Intellectual Ventures Management LLC and RPX Corp. (RPXC), Kodak said in a statement today. Google, Apple and RIM are among the 12 companies that will license the patents in the deal, according to a court filing. Under the terms, Intellectual Ventures will split the payment with the licensees.

          Facebook Inc. (FB), Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) also are part of the group, the court filing shows, along with Samsung Electronics Co., Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE), Fujifilm Holdings Corp. (4901), Huawei Technologies Co., HTC Corp. (2498) and Shutterfly Inc. (SFLY) The auctioned patents -- more than 1,100 related to the capture, manipulation and sharing of digital images -- were previously estimated by advisory firm 284 Partners LLC to be worth as much as $2.6 billion.

          “This is a fraction of our overall patent portfolio,” said Chris Veronda, a spokesman for Rochester, New York-based Kodak. “We retain ownership of about 9,600 other patents for our ongoing businesses.” The agreement resolves all patent-infringement lawsuits between Kodak and the 12 licensees, Veronda said. That includes suits Kodak had against Apple, RIM, Fujifilm, HTC, Samsung and Shutterfly. In a May filing, Kodak had said Apple alone owed it more than $1 billion in patent royalties.
        • Of which Google is part of the 12 companies fronting the money for these patents.

    • by erice (13380)

      For only $550M, why didn't Google buy the patents? That's pocket change for them (even for Sergey personally), and I'm sure Android infringes on one or more of the patents. Google could indemnify all Android manufacturers and software developers.

      Probably because it wouldn't be $550M if Google tried to buy them exclusively. It would start a bidding war where, if they won, they would end up paying much more, and if they lost would mean that they would get sued for infringement by the winner. Buying in a group is cheaper and it keeps the patents from being used as weapons, at least between the partners.

    • For only $550M, why didn't Google buy the patents? That's pocket change for them (even for Sergey personally), and I'm sure Android infringes on one or more of the patents. Google could indemnify all Android manufacturers and software developers.

      That's very simple: If Google/Apple owned these patents, they could probably blackmail Apple/Google into paying say $1bn for patent licensing. So now we do the maths: If Apple/Google lets Google/Apple buy the patents, it will cost them $1bn. That means, it would be better for Apple/Google to spend $1.99 bn themselves, because then they get $1bn from Google/Apple, and it costs them only $990 million. Still, they lose almost $1bn. By co-operating, the total cost is $550 million, shared between 12 companies. T

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @02:41PM (#42338421)

    My mistake. I thought it read "Intellectual Vultures". Sorry

  • It has been said that Kodak made a management mistake in not leveraging their patents into digitial procucts. I think this sale, however, shows that the practical value of the patents is to prevent innovation, not create products. If the patents had real value, in terms of products, then Apple or Google or MS may have bought them. As is, the situation appears to be another case of a firm possessing some basic patents and technology, but nothing that can create a product. Truly the product patent is what
    • by roc97007 (608802)

      Whatever it was, it's less now.

    • I think you post is a bit confusing. As you said, if the patents had real value Google et. al. would be buying them – which they are via a 3rd party – ergo they have real value.

      Let me posit a question – why would you spend time, money, and energy developing a innovated new product when a competitor can copy it for pennies on the dollar? You suggest that inventors should sell their ideas to monetize them. What happens when they are stolen? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Kearns)

      However

  • ...the biggest patent troll of them all?"

    Apple? Too many (and I don't even like Apple).

  • While there is no doubt SOME benefit to having a "secondary market" for patents when the primary user ceases to exist, and while there is SOME benefit to having "patent experts" who "know the landscape," the current state of affairs is way out of balance.

    When patents - whether owned by a practicing entity or not - deter advancements in the useful arts rather than promoting it, the patents in question and possibly the entire patent system has exceeded its Constitutional mandate and boundaries.

    Such is the cas

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What a waste of all the work and creativity of the people that worked at Kodak.

  • by SeaFox (739806) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @03:38PM (#42339057)

    Bloomberg reports that Kodak has agreed to sell the patent portfolio for $525 million, despite previous valuations of over $2 billion."

    I just can't figure out how Kodak ended up in bankruptcy to begin with when they have leadership like this...

  • Now bend over and take your benefit!
  • Intellectual Ventures and RPX Rational Patents

    In my first 15ms of reading that it said, "Intellectual Vampires and RPX Railroad Patents".

  • ... rightys in order to sue others, should be against the law as it is clearly so totally out ofi the original intent and purpose of property rights.

  • It feels strange when a company with true IP value sells for half the value of a company with no patents. Compared to the Instagram sale to FB for $1 billion. Instagram has no patents... simply a user base following that could leave at any time. Yet Kodak with a physical brand and history sells for so much less.

In specifications, Murphy's Law supersedes Ohm's.

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