Apple, Google, RIMM: Kodak's Patent Buyers?

ROCHESTER, N.Y. ( TheStreet) -- Apple ( AAPL), Google ( GOOG), HTC and Research In Motion ( RIMM) are among the potential bidders for Eastman Kodak's ( EK) lucrative trove of digital imaging patents, according to patent expert Alexander Poltorak.

Kodak has struggled to gain momentum in its digital camera business as its printing business flailed, but its digital-imaging patents could be worth far more than the 131-year-old camera and imaging company itself , fetching as much as $3 billion, according to some analysts. Reports surfaced last month that Kodak was working to sell off its patents.

Poltorak told TheStreet he believes Kodak has a "very valuable portfolio" of patents which "will fetch a respectable price." He said that good patents are typically sold for between $200,000 and $250,000 each, though the price per patent is often lower when large portfolios are bought and sold.

Kodak CEO Antonio Perez said in late August that Kodak was in talks with potential buyers, and had signed confidentiality agreements with possible bidders for at least 1,000 Kodak patents.

By Poltorak's estimate, the portfolio could be worth around $250 million, far less than the $3 billion some analysts have forecast, though "the important question is how much are these patents exhausted, for example, how much of the market has been already licensed and what is left. This requires a careful analysis of all existing license agreements Kodak is a party to."

As for who might be working on a bid for Kodak's patents, Poltorak said Apple and Research In Motion, both of which are current defendants in Kodak lawsuits, are possible buyers. Google or HTC could also be in the game as operating companies "in need of bolstering their defensive patent portfolios."

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