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The Lowballing of Kodak's Patent Portfolio

The bankrupt giant found that its huge trove of IP could fetch only pennies on the dollar

13 min read
The Lowballing of Kodak's Patent Portfolio
Photo: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

In January 2012, Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, having succumbed to a digital revolution in photography that it had helped to start. But the company’s managers still hoped to escape from bankruptcy and have another shot at greatness by selling part of a portfolio of patents that experts valued as high as US $4.5 billion.

Eleven months later, those roughly 1700 patents (together with 655 patent applications) sold for just $94 million—less than the licensing fees Kodak had collected in its worst-ever year in recent history. What’s more, the company licensed its remaining 20 000 patents to a dozen leading technology companies for only $433 million, severely restricting future earnings from them.

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IEEE President’s Note: Looking to 2050 and Beyond

The importance of future-proofing IEEE

4 min read
Photo of K. J. Ray Liu
IEEE

What will the future of the world look like? Everything in the world evolves. Therefore, IEEE also must evolve, not only to survive but to thrive.

How will people build communities and engage with one another and with IEEE in the future? How will knowledge be acquired? How will content be curated, shared, and accessed? What issues will influence the development of technical standards? How should IEEE be organized to be most impactful?

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The Device That Changed Everything

Transistors are civilization’s invisible infrastructure

2 min read
A triangle of material suspended above a base

This replica of the original point-contact transistor is on display outside IEEE Spectrum’s conference rooms.

Randi Klett

I was roaming around the IEEE Spectrum office a couple of months ago, looking at the display cases the IEEE History Center has installed in the corridor that runs along the conference rooms at 3 Park. They feature photos of illustrious engineers, plaques for IEEE milestones, and a handful of vintage electronics and memorabilia including an original Sony Walkman, an Edison Mazda lightbulb, and an RCA Radiotron vacuum tube. And, to my utter surprise and delight, a replica of the first point-contact transistor invented by John Bardeen, Walter Brittain, and William Shockley 75 years ago this month.

I dashed over to our photography director, Randi Klett, and startled her with my excitement, which, when she saw my discovery, she understood: We needed a picture of that replica, which she expertly shot and now accompanies this column.

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Get the Coursera Campus Skills Report 2022

Download the report to learn which job skills students need to build high-growth careers

1 min read

Get comprehensive insights into higher education skill trends based on data from 3.8M registered learners on Coursera, and learn clear steps you can take to ensure your institution's engineering curriculum is aligned with the needs of the current and future job market. Download the report now!