Patent News | "Kodak: Patents Worth Up to $2.6 Billion"

Category: Patent News

In a packed, standing-room only courtroom at a federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan, a lawyer representing Eastman Kodak Co. called Kodak "a digital company, not a film company." Seventy five percent of Kodak's revenues are now digital, he said, at the first hearing after the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing early Thursday.

"The transformation of Kodak at an industrial level is nearly complete," lawyer Andrew Dietderich told Judge Allan Gropper, noting Kodak had cut tens of thousands of employees over the past several years.

"We're here for liquidity," said Mr. Dietderich, a lawyer with Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. He said Kodak had reaped $3 billion in licensing fees since 2003. That cash pipeline stalled in 2011, he said, because Kodak had difficulty "enforcing rights" against "well capitalized [patent] infringers."

Kodak had difficulty selling its patents outside of bankruptcy because "buyers had concerns about the finality of the transaction," he said.

Kodak believes the trove of patents are worth between $2.2 billion and $2.6 billion, Mr. Dietderich said.
Kodak's chief financial officer as well as Dominic Di Napoli, its new chief restructuring officer and a vice chairman at FTI Consulting Inc., were at the hearing.

Judge Gropper expressed some concerns over Kodak's request for an immediate $700 million cash infusion under its bankruptcy-financing agreement.

"Interim financing is permissible for emergency purposes," Judge Gropper said. He said he was told before the hearing that Kodak "really needed the money today."

Mr. Dietderich said there were licensing transactions on the table "as early as yesterday that would have obviated the need for a filing."

Marshall Huebner, a Davis Polk & Wardwell lawyer representing Citigroup Inc., said efforts to syndicate Kodak's bankruptcy loan had just begun and the bank for the moment is the company's sole debtor-in-possession lender. Such a lender provides financing to help keep a company afloat during bankruptcy proceedings.

A meeting to form Kodak's official unsecured creditors committee is set for Jan. 25 at a downtown Manhattan hotel.