Saturday 28 March 2015

Is IP the Answer for Kodak’s Comeback?

In a March 20, 2015 New York Times article titled, “At Kodak, Clinging to a Future Beyond Film,” Quentin Hardy authors a fascinating account of Kodak’s past and attempt to rebound from bankruptcy through leveraging its research and intellectual property.  This blog previously has discussed the deal involving the sale of a large amount of Kodak patents, here.  Interestingly, the article notes that:

Spend much time around Kodak, and the company’s faded glory is apparent. Mr. Clarke[, the new CEO,] emphasizes the power that history still gives the Kodak brand. But the odds are stacked against his salvage job.

“The question isn’t tech-related, it’s competition,” said Amer Tiwana, an analyst at CRT Capital Group. “Kodak’s intellectual property seems to be slightly better, but the hazard is that their competitors, eight or 10 strong ones in each market, kill them on pricing. They might never get to profitability on the new stuff.”

In 2013, Kodak sold 1,100 patents related to digital image capture to a group of 12 companies, including Apple, Samsung and Facebook, for $527 million. Kodak retained the same access to the patents as the bidders, should it wish to compete in, say, photography once again. And it kept about 7,000 other patents, largely connected to the chemistry and physics of creating images, which the market sees as having relatively little value.

I wonder about the brand and the nimbleness of Kodak.  As we know, Kodak was slow to change its business model to adapt to digital photography.  Has it emerged as a company able to react to the market quickly?  That is not so clear from the article.

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