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Kodak patent auction drags on past deadline

The dollar value of bids so far is likely a disappointment to cash-strapped Kodak, whose digital-imaging patents are sought by groups backed by Google and Apple.

Eastman Kodak failed to announce a winner for its patent bid yesterday, saying that the process is still "ongoing."

Kodak, which was supposed to announce the winners by 2 p.m. PT yesterday, said just minutes before the deadline that it was extending the time for its announcement. The company said that its creditors were onboard with the move, and indicated that all participants were still bound by a "court order on confidentiality."

"Kodak and its creditors have agreed to extend the timeline for announcing the outcome of the patent auction in light of continuing discussions with bidders," Kodak said in a statement. "The auction, which is a complex and dynamic process, is ongoing."

The digital-imaging patents at stake reportedly fetched far less in the bids than Kodak had anticipated. In court documents earlier this year, the company said that its patent portfolio could be worth as much as $2.6 billion. However, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, citing sources, that the bids came in substantially lower. Last week, the Journal's sources said that the bids from two consortiums -- one led by Apple and another by Google -- were in the $150 million to $250 million range.

For Kodak, getting the most cash it can out of its portfolio is absolutely necessary. The company is currently in bankruptcy protection and must sell off the patents to help pay, among other things, a $950 million loan from Citigroup.

For Apple and Google, the patents could come in handy for legal efforts. Apple is currently waging bitter patent disputes with Samsung and other Android-based vendors, and to have those patents in-hand, it can both defend itself and potentially take aim at other rivals. Google, meanwhile, could use the patents in its own Android defense.

Kodak hasn't said when it might announce the auction results, but it appears that the company is trying to get every last time out of the bidders before it closes the deal.