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End of an era: Kodak to sell its film business

Or perhaps the reaction should be: what film business? Regardless, the company is auctioning off what's left of its print film business and other segments amid its bankruptcy proceedings.

Kodak is selling the business that made it famous.

The company revealed yesterday that it's selling its traditional print film business as part of an auction to raise cash.

The sale extends to Kodak's entire personalized imaging and document division, which includes kiosks that develop photos, photo paper and still camera film products, and even equipment that snaps souvenir photos at theme parks.

Before the digital age, Kodak held the market on consumer photography and was virtually synonymous with the word "film."

The auction is part of the company's aim to segue from consumer products and more toward commercial products. But the immediate goal is to help Kodak move out of the Chapter 11 reorganization that it filed in January.

Kodak is looking to sell the imaging and document division during the first half of 2013 with an eye toward emerging from bankruptcy sometime next year. Any deal means the company would be left selling only inkjet printers to consumers and film to the movie industry, according to Bloomberg. Ultimately, Kodak would also focus more on selling commercial printers to industry.

"The initiation of a process to sell the personalized imaging and document imaging businesses is an important step in our company's reorganization to focus our business on the commercial markets and enable Kodak to accelerate its momentum toward emergence," CEO Antonio Perez said in a statement. "In addition, we continue our initiatives to reduce our cost structure and streamline our operating models in an effort to return the company to profitability."

Beyond cutting costs, Kodak has been considering the auction of its digital imaging patent portfolio, which covers scanners and related software and services for enterprise customers. The company has been discussing such a sale with group that includes Apple, Microsoft, and Google.

Of course, the usual legal antics have complicated the deal.

Kodak and Apple have been duking it out in the courts over the validity of certain Kodak patents.

In July, one of the Kodak patents was ruled invalid by the International Trade Commission. But then Kodak scored a victory early this month when a U.S. bankruptcy judge denied Apple's claim on two Kodak patents, saying Apple waited too long to file the claim.

At this point, the sale of the digital imaging patent portfolio is up in the air. Kodak said yesterday that it's still holding discussions over the sale but that it's made no decision and may even decide to hang onto the portfolio to use as "an alternative source of recovery for creditors."