A group of 12 buyers has been found to buy Kodak's portfolio of 1,100 patents for $525 million. The sale is just about the bare minimum that is needed to keep the storied photo company alive; by selling its patents, it will meet the qualifications to get another $830 million loan, and it should be able to climb out of bankruptcy sometime next year.
The purchasing group was organized by Intellectual Ventures, the world's biggest patent-holding company, and RPX Corp., a defense-oriented patent aggregator. Intellectual Ventures will retain ownership of the patents, subject to all licenses.
According to the LA Times, bankruptcy filings show that the twelve buying companies are: Google, Apple, Facebook, Research in Motion, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung, Adobe, Huawei Technologies, HTC, Fujifilm, and Shutterfly.
Earlier reports had suggested that Apple and Google alone might buy the Kodak patents.
Kodak has sued several members of that list for patent infringement, including Samsung, Apple, RIM, HTC, and Shutterfly. The sale agreement is also an agreement to end all existing litigation between Kodak and any buyers, according to Kodak's statement on the deal.
“This monetization of patents is another major milestone toward successful emergence,” Antonio M. Perez, chairman and chief executive officer, said. “Our progress has accelerated over the past several weeks as we prepare to emerge as a strong, sustainable company.”
However, many Kodak patents may still end up out "in the wild" and could be used in lawsuits. The group of 12 paid for a "portion" of the sale, but Intellectual Ventures is actually going to own the portfolio and can use it as it wishes—it just can't sue already-licensed companies, such as this group of 12 buyers.
Intellectual Ventures has filed several lawsuits of its own in the past few years, and has also handed off patents to smaller patent-holding companies to use in litigation.
That's a roundabout way of saying that Kodak patents may well be popping up in future patent troll suits in the future. After all, somebody is going to have to get their $525 million back.