Prospective investors in Kodak patent auction submit low bids

Kodak’s sustained effort to remain intact in the face of collapse has taken yet another blow, as bids for its patent portfolio came in at only a fraction of what the company expected.

In early court filings, Kodak estimated its patents to be worth as much as $2.6 billion (£1.65 billion). But as the bids trickled in today, they are said to have ranged between a paltry $150 million (£96 million) and $250 million (£160 million) for the two lots of image processing-related technology.

Having failed to remain competitive as consumer trends shifted from film to digital photography, Kodak wound up filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January. This week’s auction of some 1,100 patents was expected to help the company close its nearly $2 billion (£1.3 billion) deficit gap.

Apple and Google are at the helm of the two rival bids, the Wall Street Journal reported in July, citing “people familiar with the matter.” Apple’s consortium is said to include Microsoft and patent aggregation firm Intellectual Ventures, while Google is said to be in cahoots with patent aggregator RPX and mobile hardware partners Samsung, LG, and HTC.

But the flailing company has refused to discuss the figures ahead of the auction, set to kick off on Wednesday 8 August.

"Kodak believes that speculation about the details and potential outcome of the auction is inappropriate," spokeswoman Stefanie Goodsell said.

The debt-ridden company has said that it plans to announce the winning bidder, or bidders, by 13 August.

"Both Apple and Google have a fairly aggressive strategy in terms of patent enforcement," intellectual property lawyer Simon Clark told the BBC.

"I think we'll see the prices go up as each side tries to outbid the other,” he added, pointing out that it’s not unusual to see initial bids multiply quickly in bankruptcy proceedings.