Analysts: Kodak’s Patent Porfolio Worth More than Company

In the aftermath of Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility smartphone business, seen by many as a way for Google to obtain Motorola’s 17,000 patents, analysts are looking at other companies with large patent portfolios. In a recent Bloomberg News article, it was noted that Kodak’s patent portfolio is estimated at about $3 billion while the market value of the company is a mere $600 million. Most of Kodak’s patents relate to digital imaging technology. Potential buyers include Microsoft and Samsung. Meanwhile, it has been reported that Kodak is looking at ways to monitize its digial imaging patents, including possibly auctioning them off.

Kodak was granted its first patent (No. 306,594) in 1884, for “Photographic Film”:

Patent No. 8,000,000 Issued

On Tuesday of each week the US Patent and Trademark (USPTO) issues patents… and this Tuesday Patent No. 8,000,000 was issued to Second Sight Medical Products, Inc., for a visual prosthesis device to enhance visual perception for people who gone blind because of outer retinal degereration. According the the specification, the retina is electrically stimulated to produce visual perceptions of light. The product (the Argus II) is in clinial trials and has received marketing approval in Europe. As explained in the USPTO press release, the invention works as follows:

The system awarded patent number 8,000,000 is designed to bypass the damaged photoreceptors altogether.  A miniature video camera housed in the patient’s glasses sends information to a small computer worn by the patient where it is processed and transformed into instructions transmitted wirelessly to a receiver in an implanted stimulator.  The signals are then sent to an electrode array, attached to the retina, which emits small pulses of electricity.  These electrical pulses are intended to bypass the damaged photoreceptors and stimulate the retina’s remaining cells to transmit the visual information along the optic nerve to the brain.

The patent will be presented to the inventors by Director Kappos at the Smithsonian American Art Museum on Sept. 8, 2011.

German Court Enjoins Sale of Samsung Tablet Throughout Most of Europe

A German judge has issued a preliminary injuction (a temporary injuction until the case can be decided on the merits) against Samsung which bars the company from selling the Galaxy Tab tablet PC throughout most of Europe. As we noted earlier with respect to the iPhone versus Samsumg Galaxy smart phone controversy, much of the dispute involves trade dress issues.  Under the Lanham Act (the same legislation protecting trademarks), a product’s visual appearance and packaging (for example, the shape, color, or materials used for a product) can be legally protected. According to a statement by Samsung, “Samsung is preparing to challenge this preliminary order in the court in order to have the injunction lifted as soon as possible.” We interpret this to mean that the company is planning on appealing the injunction order.

Jam Wars

As reported in Ad Week, J.M. Smucker, the company that makes Smucker’s preserves, has filed a complaint (see below) in federal court seeking a declaratory judgement that it is not infringing on upscale French preserves maker Andros (maker of the Bonn Maman brand of preserves). The issue relates to usage of the distinctive Ginham design on Smucker’s lids. Under a 27-year old agreement, Bonn Mama agreed to allow Smuckers free usage of the Ginham design so long as it did not compete directly. Because Monn Mamam sold its preserves to upscale markets while Smuckers did not, the companies had been coexisting peacefully. However, all that changed when Smuckers launched its new premium Orchard Finest line of preserves.  Andros sent Smuckers a cease and desist letter, commencing the  “Jam War” as it is being called in the industry.

Smuckers v. S.A. Andros