Several patents acquired by Eastman Kodak Company could turn out to be worth over $2B USD. In December, South Korea's LG Electronics negotiated a settlement with Kodak in a case over alleged infringement of the intellectual property. And early this March, Samsung offered up a settlement of its own after an unfavorable early ruling in U.S. federal court. Insiders estimate the pair of settlements to be worth close to $1B USD for Kodak.
Now Kodak is embroiled in a second round of lawsuits with Apple, Inc., makers of the camera-equipped iPhone, and Research in Motion, Ltd., who includes cameras in several of its smartphones.
Kodak CEO Antonio Perez in a recent interview Bloomberg says his company "deserves to win" and hopes to get over $1B USD in damages or settlements from the top smart phone makers.
The patents in question cover image capture, compression and data storage and a method for previewing motion images.
The case was dealt a setback when a judge at the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that Apple and RIM did not infringe upon the patent. Today the ITC will rule whether that decision was sound -- an appeal of sorts.
Even if Kodak wins, that doesn't mean that it will get settlement or damages, as the ITC does not have the power to rule monetary compensation. But it does bolster the company's chances in its pending lawsuits, where a loss greatly weakens them. As the ITC can block imports and exports, Kodak could also work that angle to its advantage.
Mr. Perez remains optimistic, stating, "This is a lot of money, big money."
Kodak sure needs money. The company, who was a king in the film camera era, has fallen on hard times with the advance of digital imaging and the death of film cameras. The company still earns a lot of money from instant cameras, but by the end of 2010 it has lost over half its market value since 2005 and seen revenue fall to $7.2B USD in 2010, also about half of the 2005 value.
Between 1993 and 2007 the company went on a patent binge, spending on patents and acquiring small startups. Between 2004 and 2007 it spent approximately $3.4B USD to beef up its digital imaging IP.
Armed with that IP, the company has strong-armed 30 different electronics makers into lucrative licensing agreements.