Revenue from patent licenses: how can we learn estimated amounts and can we benchmark them?

Eastman Kodak makes hundreds of millions of dollars every year from its patent licenses. Its lucrative portfolio has more than 1,000 patents and in 2010 “it made an estimated $630 million from its licenses, according to Argus Research.” The quote comes from the NY Times, April 29, 2011 at B4, which adds that Kodak expects to generate $250 million to $300 million in revenue each year through 2013 from its licensing agreements (See my post of Dec. 31, 2007: intellectual property licensing with 12 references.)

In part, I was surprised that someone outside a company was able to estimate its patent licensing revenue. How the terms of license deals could be known and aggregated is beyond me (See my post of April 27, 2008: American Express’s patent licensing program; Feb. 24, 2009: primacy of intangibles for lawyers per billion; March 27, 2009: more on patent investors; April 9, 2009: AT&T sale of fallow patents; Sept. 21, 2009: patent trolls and licenses; Nov. 8, 2009: most patents make no money; July 15, 2010: Motorola’s licensing structure; Oct. 18, 2010: create separate corporate licensing team: and Dec. 16, 2010; pruned patents may create licensing work in-house.).

Second, wouldn’t it be good as a benchmark of comparative performance for law departments to know patent license revenue obtained per patent record or per billion dollars of revenue? My slide rule salivates!

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