Apple, Google and Microsoft cleared to buy Kodak patents

A US court has approved the sale of Kodak's digital-imaging patents to a group of technology interests which include Apple, Microsoft, and Google.

The other members of the collection that bought Kodak's patents include Adobe, Research In Motion, Samsung, a unit of HTC, Fujifilm, Facebook, Huawei, a unit of Amazon, and Shutterfly - which purchased Kodak's online photo services last year for $23.8 million (£14.8 million).

The $527 million (£328 million) deal, which should take about 45 days to close, was settled for much less than the company wanted, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Kodak originally hoped to take home $2 billion (£1.2 billion). As a result, Judge Allan Gropper of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan called the deal "disappointing."

"The amount in transactions, which are complicated and integrated, are the highest and best value available to the debtors," said a Kodak lawyer.

The sale of 1,100 Kodak patents is expected to help the company pull itself out of bankruptcy in the first half of 2013. The patents include 700 related to digital camera LCD viewfinders and 400 for image capture and manipulation and network-based services.

"With the Court's approval of the sale of our digital imaging patent portfolio, we have achieved one of Kodak's key restructuring objectives, while positioning our Commercial Imaging business for further growth and success, and enabling Kodak to repay a substantial amount of its initial lending," a company spokesman said.

On 19 January, 2012, the famed photography and film brand announced that it would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as well as sue Samsung for patent infringement in an attempt to restructure debt.

"After considering the advantages of Chapter 11 at this time, the board of directors and the entire senior management team unanimously believe that this is a necessary step and the right thing to do for the future of Kodak," CEO Antonio Perez said last January.

In August, Kodak announced that it would sell its film business. A month later, the company cut 1,000 jobs.

In the year since, Kodak has fought an ongoing battle with Apple over digital imaging patents, with both companies claiming they owned the patents in question. Kodak reported $3 billion (£1.9 billion) in earnings from licensing the patents, while Apple said it owns 10 of the patents due to work the businesses conducted together in the 1990s.