The next patent round — Kodak and others

Get ready for the next patent auction. Kodak is the latest company to sell its patents, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Investment bank Lazard Ltd. began marketing the portfolio this week, reaching out to companies that may be interested, said a person familiar with the matter. The auction will be conducted over two stages, according to a person advising a company interested in buying Kodak’s digital-imaging patents.
This person says the interested company is a large, strategic buyer in the wireless industry looking to use the patents for defensive protection.

The news apparently sent Kodak stock up by 24%.
The sale is the second part of Kodak’s IP strategy. The company has already licensed a number of their digital imaging patents to mobile phone companies. According to the Journal story:

The licensing strategy brought in $1.9 billion from 2008 to 2010, but the flow of settlements dried up this year, prompting the company to look more seriously at selling patents, one board member said.

One wonders how many boards are asking the same questions and how many other companies are now scouring their patent portfolios looking for anything remotely associated with wireless technologies.
The near-frenzy over wireless patents has also sparked action in another area. The Journal also reports that Canadian patent licensing company Wi-LAN has launched a hostile bid for another Canadian technology company, MOSAID Technologies:

“Combining the patent portfolios will provide a more efficient and rapid path to establishing a larger and more valuable aggregate portfolio given the combined management team’s expertise and increased business scale,” Wi-Lan said in a statement. It will also allow the combined entity to access capital to grow the business and fund litigation to enforce its patents, if necessary, Wi-Lan said.

Who will be next?

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