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Kodak Alaris, IP.com create a partnership

Rochester Business Journal
January 3, 2014

Kodak Alaris Inc., which became independent of Eastman Kodak Co. on Sept. 3, has teamed with a Perinton firm to help manage its key intellectual property.
 
The technology partnership with IP.com LLC, a company that helps businesses capitalize on their intellectual property, is one way Kodak Alaris can continue to evolve.
 
Kodak Alaris became a company some three months ago when Kodak completed the sale of its Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses to the U.K. Kodak Pension Plan.
 
The sale included a perpetual license to use the Kodak brand and the transfer of research and development and IP for each of the acquired businesses. The new company launched with $1.3 billion in annual revenue and 4,700 employees in some 30 countries.
 
IP.com has 48 employees locally. It provides professional services for defensive publishing and patent research. It has more than 250 global technology customers worldwide.
 
Kodak Alaris has two divisions: personalized imaging and document imaging. The company consists of retail systems solutions, paper and output systems, film capture and event imaging systems. The company employs roughly 700 people in Rochester.
 
"We, of course, come from a long heritage of intellectual property work from Eastman Kodak," said Jim Whritenor, systems engineering manager for Kodak Alaris' retail system solutions and a manager of the IP work at Kodak Alaris. "When we came up for sale, we realized we were going to be a smaller company; we wanted to be a leaner company, and we didn't necessarily follow what Eastman Kodak had charted the path in."
 
IP.com was founded in 2000 and has been focused on moving IP forward to be published, analyzed and monetized. The company's platform InnovationQ was released in 2013. The platform is built on meaning-based search technology called Semantic Gist.
 
The search technology has been one tool that has helped the engineers and scientists at Kodak Alaris compete with fewer people than the business had when it was part of Kodak.
 
"The difference is semantic search is meaning-based search; you just type in your question, you get your results," said Mark O'Donnell, vice president of research and analytics for IP.com.
 
Navigating the realm of IP can be daunting, especially since unreliable patent searches could cause a lawsuit. For Kodak Alaris, the technology partnership with IP.com allows it to check the world patent literature and protect its IP from others. Semantic Gist helps alert engineers to non-practicing entities, people who own patents but are not using the technology.
 
In the early stages of search engines, a search's accuracy depended on a user's inclusion and correct order of keywords. Search engines such as IP.com's InnovationQ offer clients the ability to pose an English-language query in a sentence or a paragraph and search the world's patent literature in microseconds.
 
"Since this is a fairly new product for IP.com, what we're looking for is partners that are willing to give us a lot of feedback, so we can take what we believe is the Ferrari of search engines for patent literature and just continue to make it the best of breed," O'Donnell said.
 
The companies partnered because of Kodak Alaris' need to streamline its structure and IP.com's need to gain customer feedback to continue its progress.
 
"We certainly needed more than a sales call calling us when the contract was due and saying the price went up by this much," Whritenor said. "Being leaner, we wanted a partnership, not just hand in the contract and here you go."
 
The Semantic Gist system has been on the market for two years. It works well for patent literature and technical publications because the content tends to be well-formed. Each patent has an abstract and structured content explaining the patent's use, which makes it easier for a search engine like Semantic Gist to find concepts, officials said.
 
The idea of a semantic search has been around since the early 1990s, but the cumbersome process of searching a colossal database, processing the search through a company and receiving a data report days later would inhibit bringing a product to market quickly, IP.com officials said.
 
A company such as Kodak Alaris, with its history of IP, needs the search tool to stay efficient and on par with competitors.
 
"The benefit that IP.com has to working with us (is) we're not your typical client," said Joseph Manico, patent engineer for Kodak Alaris. "We have a lot of intellectual property expertise here between our scientists, engineers, our staff. We have a lot of people, a lot of patents, a lot of knowledge-so we can feed back a lot of important information to them."
 
Local universities could benefit from IP.com's tools as well. The company acts as a bridge between the corporate world and the academic world to get intellectual property to market.
 
InnovationQ also targets confidential research disclosures provided through strategic partnerships with universities, such as the University of Rochester. It allows university technology transfer offices to showcase their licensable technologies to corporations whose activity is a semantic match to their research. The technology presents mutually beneficial technology licensing opportunities and saves both parties time spent on research to find each other, IP.com officials said.
 
"We're entering into partnerships with universities now where they're loading their confidential research disclosures and licensable technology into our databases, so when corporations like Kodak Alaris search it, licensable technology comes up," O'Donnell said. "If you see something that's on point with what you're working in, it gives you an avenue to contact the tech transfer office to continue the discussion."
 
For Rochester, the technology partnership of Kodak Alaris and IP.com is expected to create growth.
 
"I believe we're going to be growing, so I think it creates opportunity," Whritenor said. "I think the employees feel much better about their prospects for the future, so that whole tenor has gone up as well. I see for both Eastman Kodak and Kodak Alaris, I think it's going to be a very bright future for both of us."
 
He added, "Two growing companies in Rochester means more opportunity and a lot of excitement."

1/3/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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