Earlier this week, Eastman Kodak Co. announced that it will sell its portfolio of digital imaging patents for $525 million. The buyers include many familiar names, including Research in Motion; Samsung Electronics; Amazon, Inc. and Google Inc.

The sale of the patents represents a watershed movement in the storied company’s history.

As Florida readers are probably aware, Eastman Kodak built its business empire on the strength of camera film. Its Brownie camera, which it introduced in the 1950s, started the wave of amateur hobby photography and for decades, Kodak was the first name in film.

But when consumers started to switch to digital photography, Eastman Kodak stumbled. It did not anticipate how quickly the migration to digital would happen, or how swift the change in preference would be.

Kodak tried to catch up –the digital imaging patents represent the investment Kodak made in 21st century picture-taking — but it was too little, too late.

Now, Kodak is selling what it once hoped to be its path to the future, its patents, in order to get out of bankruptcy, which company officials believe they can do by the end of the first half of 2013.

Only time will tell whether Kodak’s bold move is a success that allows the company to put away the problems of the past and move forward as a more contemporary, efficient company or whether this sale amounts to the company shooting itself in the foot.

In any event, what we want you to see here is that intellectual property assets are very valuable. It makes good business sense to make certain that you have protected yours sufficiently. You never know when you may need to leverage the value of these assets.

Source: Reuters, “Kodak in $525 million patent deal, eyes bankruptcy end,” Tom Hals, Dec. 19, 2012