USPTO grants Kodak a broad facial recognition patent, just in time for its patent auction

Eastman Kodak now has a crown jewel amongst its 7K patent plus portfolio, which the bankrupt firm once known as Big Yellow plans to auction off soon. The whole portfolio is worth upwards of two billion dollars, Kodak says.

Eastman Kodak is auctioning off its 1,100 patents of its entire patent portfolio of 7,000 plus patents - and today it received from the US Patent and Trademark Office what may be a crown jewel, a USPTO search revealed this morning. That jewel is a broad patent on facial recognition, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Citicorp in January loaned $950 million to Kodak, and the patents (including the facial recognition one, shown in Figure B) are collateral on that loan, according the USPTO Assignment Database, which lists Citicorp North America as an "agent ... with a security interest."

Figure B

Citicorp will surely make its money back when Kodak auctions off its patent portfolio, for which it took its first steps today.

The patent, filed back in 2008, contains some amazingly broad claims, including

"...the ability to track a face across multiple photographs," says Thomas Ewing, a renowned Silicon Valley intellectual property attorney and patent consultant at Avancept. "If this patent is what it seems, it would be a star patent in its (portfolio)."

We'll be following this story around the Kodak auction as it develops.