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BANKRUPTCY WEEK AHEAD: Kodak Patent Bids Due Next Week

By Jacqueline Palank Next week, Eastman Kodak Co. (EKDKQ) will find out who wants to buy its patents and how much they're willing to offer. Bids are due Monday ahead of an Aug. 8 auction of some 1,100 Kodak patents, although Kodak won bankruptcy-court approval to keep those bids under wraps until it can announce a winner. The Wall Street Journal reported this month that bids for the patents, which concern digital-imaging technology and are worth up to $2.6 billion, could be impacted by a recent ruling that a key Kodak patent was invalid. Kodak said it would appeal the ruling, which represented a victory for Apple Inc. (AAPL) and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM, RIM.T). The disputed patent concerns technology for previewing digital images and has been highly lucrative for the company. Kodak, however, recently won a separate dispute with Apple over another patent concerning the processing of digital images. Specifically up for grabs at next month's auction are two groups of patents. The first group includes more than 700 patents covering technology used in digital cameras, smartphones and tablet computers to capture, process and transmit images. The second group has more than 400 patents for technology used to analyze, manipulate, store and access images. Both portfolios include foreign patents as well as pending U.S. and foreign patent applications. According to Kodak, it has been able to earn more than $3 billion from licensing the patents over the past decade. Patriot Coal Corp. (PCXCQ) on Thursday will seek final approval of an $802 million bankruptcy loan the mining company is relying on to fund its restructuring. A Manhattan bankruptcy judge already gave Patriot permission to draw on the bulk of the loan, $677 million, but the company must return to court in order to use the full amount. One day after Patriot's July 9 Chapter 11 filing, Judge Allan L. Gropper approved interim use of the loan "with some reluctance" in light of his concern that the loan includes a $302 million "roll-up" of existing debt into the new loan. However, a Patriot adviser told the court that the lenders--including Citigroup Inc. (C), Barclays PLC (BCS, BARC.LN) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC)--wouldn't have agreed to extend more financing to the company without the roll-up. Patriot was spurred to seek court protection after its cash supply tightened amid lower demand for its products, rising expenses and the loss of customer contracts. The company faces a call from a mine workers' union to move its Chapter 11 case to West Virginia, where many of its mines, employees and creditors are concentrated. That request is slated for a court hearing in September. Friday, a Jacksonville, Fla., bankruptcy judge will consider ordering an investigation of Freddie Mac (FMCC) as a first step toward a potential lawsuit to recover $805 million from the government-sponsored mortgage investor. Ocala Funding LLC, the mortgage-securities unit of defunct lender Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp., filed for Chapter 11 protection this month with the aim of recovering the funds from Freddie Mac, and it says the investigation could help it build its case. Ocala Funding says Taylor Bean officials looted the $805 million from its coffers and used it to pay off Taylor Bean's obligations to Freddie Mac, who purchased the residential mortgages Taylor Bean originated and which Ocala Funding bundled into securities and sold to investors. Freddie Mac has declined to comment on the investigation. Lee Farkas, the former Taylor Bean chairman now serving a 30-year prison sentence, used Ocala Funding's cash flow to boost Taylor Bean's operation and orchestrate what prosecutors later described as a nearly $3 billion fraud to fund a lavish lifestyle filled with expensive cars, multiple homes and his own jet. --Joseph Checkler in New York contributed to this article. Write to Jacqueline Palank at jacqueline.palank@dowjones.com Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

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