Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in January, and since then the photography pioneer has been trying to sell off its many patents. Over the summer it was reported that Apple and Google were leading separate groups in a bidding war for the valuable portfolio. Now a new report says that Apple and Google have teamed up to place a $500 million bid.
Apple Inc. and Google Inc. have joined forces to offer more than $500 million to buy Eastman Kodak Co.’s patents out of bankruptcy, said people familiar with the situation.
The two companies, competing for dominance of the smartphone market, have partnered after leading two separate groups this summer to buy some of Kodak’s 1,100 imaging patents, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private.
In big patent buyouts, it’s actually common for competitors to join forces. This keeps the bidding wars from unnecessarily escalating. Apple, Microsoft, and RIM recently teamed up to buy Nortel’s 6,000+ patent trove for $4.5 billion. When it seems like there’s a new patent-related lawsuit every day, buying up and dividing old patents is a good way for tech companies to keep the peace and still stay protected.
Before teaming up for this Kodak bid, Apple had proposed a bid in conjunction with Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures Management. Google had aligned itself with Android phone partners in Asia and a patent company called RPX Corp. It looks like Apple and Google foresaw a bidding war that both companies wanted to avoid. Apple has way more money in the bank, but Google still has plenty of cash to throw around as well.
Kodak’s patents “relate to the capture, manipulation and sharing of digital images.” Kodak is now “pursuing a plan to shrink the company and focus less on photography and more on commercial, packaging and functional printing and enterprise services,” according to Bloomberg.