Apple and Google join forces to buy Kodak patents

AFP Photo /  Kevork Djansezian
Traditional rivals Apple and Google have reportedly partnered to make a joint offer worth more than $500 million to buy Kodak's digital imaging patents.

The Apple-led group including Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures Management LLC joined Google’s partners, including patent aggregation company RPX Corp. and the Asian makers of Google’s Android phones, to buy some of Kodak’s 1,100 imaging patents, two people close to the matter told Bloomberg.

The groups made separate offers worth less than $500 million, but then decided to team up to maker a bigger bid, the sources said.
Kodak put up for sale more than 11,000 patents related to digital images manipulation after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January this year. The company plans to slim down, switching from a photography business to functional printing and enterprise services.

Last year a consortium including Apple, Microsoft Corp. and Research in Motion Ltd. bought over 6,000 Nortel Networks Corp.’s patents for $4.5 billion after the company filed for bankruptcy. Google lost the auction for those patents after making an offer of $900 million.

Experts say the joint bid for Kodak patents would not only reduce the cost of purchasing, but also secures the companies from potential infringement litigation.

At the moment Apple is involved in a number of patent battles with Samsung in the US, South Korea, Germany, Australia and several other countries. Last week the companies resumed their patent battle in a California courtroom, as Samsung attempts to overturn an award of $1.05bn in damages to Apple. In August a US court found Samsung had copied critical features of the iPhone and iPad. A South Korean court ruled in August that Samsung did not violate Apple’s design, but fined both for infringement of each others patent.