Judge approves Kodak digital-imaging patent sale to Apple, Google and others

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The bankruptcy court judge overseeing Kodak's sell-off of its digital-imaging patents has given the green light to sell the IP to a group of company's that includes Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech heavyweights.

Judge Allan L. Gropper on Friday approved the terms of sale for a collection of 1,100 patents relating to the capture and display of digital images, bringing Kodak's bankruptcy proceedings one step closer to resolution, reports The Wall Street Journal.

It was reported in December that an Apple-led consortium put in a winning bid of $525 million for rights to the patent licenses, but Friday's court hearing revealed the actual sale price to be slightly higher at $527 million. Initial hopes were to garner at least $2 billion from the patent auction.

Judge Gropper called the final price "disappointing," but noted the much-needed cash will help Kodak move forward with restructuring plans that will see the company emerge from bankruptcy with a new look targeting commercial customers.

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

The struggling photography pioneer's $830 million loan package required the company net at least $500 million from the sale.

Included in the group of winning bidders are Apple, Google, Microsoft, Adobe, RIM, Samsung, Fujifilm, Facebook, Huawei Technologies, Shutterfly and units of HTC and Amazon. When bidding first started in July of last year, Apple and Google led two separate teams, but less-than-adequate offers prompted the consortia to rearrange alliances.

In its decline, Kodak has been forced to sell many of its core businesses, like the camera sector it pioneered in 1900 with the Brownie box camera and attached film development service.