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Sony revealed as buyer of Ipix patents

Electronics giant anonymously wins patents on digital imaging technology for $3.6 million at bankruptcy auction.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
2 min read
Sony has bought $3.6 million in intellectual property from imaging technology company Ipix, a court has revealed.

The auction for the Ipix intellectual property assets, which includes patents held domestically and abroad, took place in open court as part of the company's bankruptcy sale, according to a court order granting Ipix permission to sell its intellectual property and assets.

Ipix, which traded on the Nasdaq, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on July 31, 2006, with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Sony was initially represented by a law firm as an anonymous bidder and won with the highest offer: $3.6 million for all of Ipix's patents held both domestically and internationally, as well as any outstanding patent applications or provisional patent applications on new inventions. It was revealed on Friday, at a court hearing approving the sale, that Sony was the bidder.

The sale included more than 35 U.S. patents and patent applications on technology involving immersive still photography, 360-degree digital immersive video and a camera with gigapixel resolution, as well as more than 50 patents and patent applications on the same or similar technology filed in Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, the European Union and Japan.

Sony confirmed the purchase, but did not wish to comment.

Ipix is best known for developing technology that converts two 180-degree digital images into a rotational 360-degree panoramic view. The technology was popular in the real estate industry because it enabled people to view entire rooms remotely via the Internet.

Ipix, however, also owned patents on technology applicable to security and surveillance.

With funding from NASA and the Department of Energy, Ipix developed 360-by-360-degree immersion navigation--a camera-and-software system that allows remote control of digital panning, tilting and zoom functions. The system can be integrated with other surveillance technology for detecting motion and monitoring room temperature and alarm systems. The technology was used at President Bush's second inaugural parade, the 2004 G8 Summit and the 2004 Democratic and Republican national conventions, according to Ipix statements.

In June 2005, Ipix also won a $2.4 million contract from DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) to develop the "world's highest resolution video camera" for use in capturing wide-area views from high altitudes.