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  1. #1
    Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    The Lowballing of Kodak's Patent Portfolio

    IEEE Spectrum: The Lowballing of Kodak's Patent Portfolio

    Interesting analysis of how Kodak's bid to sell its patents went pear-shaped.

  2. #2
    Pioneer's Avatar
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    Another interesting story of how Kodak managed to screw up. About the best that will come out of this entire mess will be a few lessons in future business management texts. Unfortunately when companies get as large as Kodak was their managers don't really believe that those lessons even apply to them any longer...but they do.
    Dan

    The simplest tools can be the hardest to master.

  3. #3
    Ken Nadvornick's Avatar
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    I'm envisioning the nerdy kid in the neighborhood, having been blindfolded, tied to a tree, and with his pants pulled down around his ankles, while the rest of the kids are off at the beach having a swell time.



    Ken
    "When making a portrait, my approach is quite the same as when I am portraying a rock. I do not wish to impose my personality upon the sitter, but, keeping myself open to receive reactions from his own special ego, record this with nothing added: except of course when I am working professionally, when money enters in,—then for a price, I become a liar..."

    — Edward Weston, Daybooks, Vol. II, February 2, 1932

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    How interesting that the company that worked so hard to move away from a silver process for environmental reasons succeeded with digital. Then failed to see digital as the answer. Sort of the Swiss electronic watch ploy.

  5. #5
    fotch's Avatar
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    Top management at Kodak painted itself into a corner. Sad that it could happen.
    Items for sale or trade at www.Camera35.com

  6. #6

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    don't sell your duck on a rainy day… they sold a decade too late.

    just like the litigation with Polariod…

  7. #7

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    Hmm, it seems to me like in many ways their expectations for the sale were reasonable. As one example, if you read that '218 patent, it's a very clear description of the way live-preview screens work on pretty much every digital camera; if it hadn't been unexpectedly ruled invalid, or even if they'd had the time and money to contest the ruling in a serious way, it would be a very strong patent on a crucial aspect of essentially everyone's camera businesses. And they were selling it at the time the smartphone wave was really breaking, when it seems like there should be a lot of new entrants needing licenses for digital camera patents.

    Kodak's management certainly made plenty of mistakes, but I don't think the way they tried to unload this portfolio was really one of them. In hindsight they waited too long, but that's probably because they thought they could save the company in a form for whom the patents would be useful, and it took them too long to wake up to "oh crap, this isn't going to work, we need to sell some stuff to keep the lights on".

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
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    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  8. #8
    AgX
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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post
    Hmm, it seems to me like in many ways their expectations for the sale were reasonable. As one example, if you read that '218 patent, it's a very clear description of the way live-preview screens work on pretty much every digital camera; if it hadn't been unexpectedly ruled invalid, or even if they'd had the time and money to contest the ruling in a serious way, it would be a very strong patent on a crucial aspect of essentially everyone's camera businesses. And they were selling it at the time the smartphone wave was really breaking, when it seems like there should be a lot of new entrants needing licenses for digital camera patents.
    But it is nearing expiring date.

  9. #9
    fotch's Avatar
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    Not only was their timing off, they put all their eggs in one basket. And what about their back up plan? Apparently, they had none. What I find amazing is that having did so many things right for so long, they suddenly became stupid. Top management has all the blame.
    Items for sale or trade at www.Camera35.com

  10. #10

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    (the "218" patent)

    Quote Originally Posted by AgX View Post
    But it is nearing expiring date.
    Yeah, that's true, but the smartphone companies couldn't possibly have waited for it to expire while letting their competitors go to market with better camera features. Played right, I think it should have been good for a big one-time licensing windfall for the purchaser, except for that little problem of being deemed invalid. (And I haven't looked at that court decision, so I have no idea what a healthy company's prospects would have been for recovering from it.)

    The really nice thing is that it would be a competitively-necessary license, but not a standardized or regulatory-required one; no one says you *have* to have a camera with live preview in your phone. That quite possibly means that they could have licensed it without being restricted to the usual "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory" terms: You want to make a competitive phone now and keep up with the market? You gotta play our game! It looks to me like a pretty big opportunity that was missed because of the collapse of that patent.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

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