Kodak camera licence to unknown start-up

Eastman Kodak Company has licensed the Kodak brand name ‘for certain consumer products, including digital cameras, pocket video cameras and portable projectors’ to JK Imaging Ltd, an unlisted company established in October last year.

Joe Atick

Joe Atick, CEO of start-up JK Imaging Ltd, winner of the Kodak camera brand licence.

No financial details are being disclosed. The length of the licence agreement is described as ‘mulit-year’ (which is sometimes a PR euphemism for two years). There is no reference to industrial design expertise or source of manufacture in the press announcement.

‘Kodak remains a strong and trustworthy brand in the consumer space and this agreement reinforces how valuable our brand is,’ said Laura Quatela, president, Eastman Kodak Company. ‘The JK Imaging team has global experience and expertise in the industry.’

The press announcement for this licensing agreement was an extraordinarily short 210 words. (Click here for the full text in PDF form). This lack of detail from a company in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which one would assume would be keen to talk up its financial landmarks – encouraged Photo Counter to seek further information:

Kodak corporate affairs spokesperson Krista Gleason said that Kodak has had strong interest in the camera brand licence ‘and that is indicative of the strength and value of the Kodak brand.’

She re-stated that ‘the JK Imaging team has global experience and expertise in the industry.’ She later added: ‘I would also add for your background that Kodak has had a brand licensing program for a number of years. We have guidelines and standards in place to protect the brand that each of our licensees must follow.

‘This announcement is positive news for Kodak and the Kodak brand.’

The JK Imaging executive quoted in the press release is CEO Joe Atick (pictured above right), who according to his LinkedIn profile commenced his role with the new business just this month. He is also chairman of JA Capital Holdings, which according to the Kodak press release announcing the deal, is a ‘global supplier in consumer imaging and electronics products’.

However, in a company search via reputable US business information vendor Find The Company, the only ‘JA Capital Holdings’ which registered was a company based in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, which primarily operates in the ‘Management of Companies and Enterprises’ sector. It had revenue of just over US$1 million in 2011 and employs 12 people, according to Find The Company.

Mr Atick said that the two businesses – JA Holdings and JK Imaging – are separate and that ‘JA Holdings did not acquire JK Imaging.’

The link between the two businesses seems to be the executive involvement of Mr Atick, who for the last 16 years has also been principal of family-based, second-tier consumer electronics distributor, Jaacx Distributors Corporation, Miami, Florida.

Jaacx is a distributor of cameras and other consumer electronics from brands such as Olympus, Philips and Sony – but not Kodak – focussed on the Latin American market. A company search of Jaacx indicates it had revenues of $4.3 million in 2011 and employed 23 people.

JK Imaging kindly responded to requests for more details from Photo Counter:

In what countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East does JK Imaging have sales offices?
JK Imaging has sales offices in the US (California and Miami), Hong Kong, Tokyo, Manila, China, Dubai, and Jordan. Also in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.
(Presumably these have all been established in the last few months, as their is no record of them via internet searches – however start-up companies do need time to ‘start up’! Alternatively, JK Imaging might be operating via sales agencies but not wanting to disclose this for some reason – maybe it’s just ‘bigging itself up’.)
How many employees does JK Imaging have worldwide?
We do not disclose that information.
(Which probably indicates the truth is, ‘not very many’.)
The JK Imaging team has global experience and expertise in the industry?
The key executives of JK Imaging have a combined experience of more than 200 years in the industry. These executives have been associated in the past in manufacturing, sales and distribution in companies like Panasonic, Olympus, Sony, Ricoh VC and Pioneer.
(No executive besides Mt Atick have been cited, but a Mike Hackett, an ex-JVC vice-president, is listed on LinkedIn as executive vice president, Sales, at JK Imaging. )
Is there any relationship between JK Imaging and Jaacx?
Jaacx will be the distributor for Kodak cameras in Latin America.
Any other details on JK Imaging?
JK Imaging will roll out a complete line of Kodak cameras worldwide during Q2, 2013.

- The Kodak/JK Imaging press release has been run extensively and unquestioningly from the Wall Street Journal down. US website http://www.1001noisycameras however, referred to ‘Kodak licensing iLC production to some unknown company’ in an opinion piece about the dangers of lowering of the entry-bar in terms of quality,  photographic capability and sensor size in (mirrorless interchangeable) camera manufacture. 


14 thoughts on “Kodak camera licence to unknown start-up

  1. Pingback: Algo más sobre el acuerdo Kodak-JK Imaging para la creación de un nuevo sistema CSC Kodak | fotochismes.com

  2. A group of Kodak investors at kodak.boards.net have uncovered that web domain information affilated with JK Imaging lists names and addresses affilated with General Imaging and Asia Optical. IMS Marketing is also serving as JK Imaging’s Latin American marketing firm.

    • Thanks for the contribution, Logik. IMS Marketing (Miami and various Latin American cities) assisted in providing the information in this story.

  3. Pingback: Kodak (or was that JK?) announces S1! - Blog for micro four third and competing cameras

  4. Pingback: Kodak-branded Micro Four Thirds Camera Teased | Gadget News and Reviews - gadget.com

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  6. The man holding the camera is Robert Lai, the top man at Asia Optical, who seem to be bankrolling JK Imaging, as they were rumored to have bankrolled General Imaging (GE brand) in the recent past. AO is a bit player in the Taiwanese camera manufacturing scene compared to Altek, Ability and Hon Hai/Foxconn (who purchased Premier Camera years ago). This is AO’s best chance yet to catch up.

  7. According to a Phillipino tech website, Asia optical manufacture for lots of companies, including Canon, Nikon, Epson, Fuji, Olympus, Omron, Ricoh, Sanyo, Sony, Sharp, Kodak & Xerox. See http://www.yugatech.com/events/aof-factory-tour-at-dongguan-china/. I also wonder if the K in JK stands for Kodak, and if the new company will service/honour Kodak warranties. If you bought a Kodak Camera from Jessops 6 months ago, will they honour the repairs?. And do any Kodak staff own shares in JKI? At least Steve Sasson can still design Kodak digital Cameras. My big fear was that Kodak would have become cheap ‘Tat’ cameras like Cool I cam, Jenoptik and Magpix, to name but a few, but the announcement of a Micro 4/3 CSC surprised me. Maybe it is going High end 2nd tier, as AO’s client list is full of name manufacturers. I had a GE X5 (AO design for GE but based on Fuji’s bridge cameras) which I couldn’t fault. Hopefully the new Kodak cameras will be high end 2nd tier. Time will tell.

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  10. Pingback: Kodak receives court-approved financing, could soon exit Chapter 11 | Digital Trends

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