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Kodak: We might just keep our patents, after all

After Kodak reportedly received extremely low bids for its patents, the company is saying that it may not choose to sell them.

Rather than accept a bid offer for its patents, Kodak has decided to threaten those companies interested in its portfolio.

In an e-mailed statement to CNET, a Kodak spokesperson said that while the company is still in "active discussions" with would-be patent buyers, it has no duty to sell them. In fact, there's a chance that it may hold onto them.

"The company reiterates that it has not reached a determination or agreement to sell the digital imaging patent portfolio, and may retain all or parts of it as a source of creditor recoveries in lieu of a sale if it concludes that doing so is in the best interests of the estate," a Kodak spokesperson wrote in the statement.

This wasn't supposed to happen. Earlier this week, Kodak was slated to announce the winner of the auction to acquire its entire digital imaging patent portfolio. However, just minutes before the announcement was to be made, the company said that it was delaying its decision.

The digital-imaging patents at stake reportedly fetched far less in the bids than Kodak had anticipated, leaving the company without a suitable offer. In court documents earlier this year, Kodak said that its patent portfolio could be worth as much as $2.6 billion. However, The Wall Street Journal reported last week that bids from two consortiums -- one led by Apple and another by Google -- were in the $150 million to $250 million range.

Now that Kodak has laid down the gauntlet, it's not immediately clear what it hopes to achieve. The company is out of options and must pay back, among other things, a $950 million loan from Citigroup. The only way to even get close to that figure is to sell its patents.

So, it should be interesting to see if Kodak's posturing will help the company increase its bid offers or force it to accept a deal it might not want to take.