Apple and chief rival Google have teamed up for a joint bid on 1,100 patents being auctioned by Kodak. Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reported that two different groups headed respectively by Apple and Google have joined together in their efforts to secure the patents. If successful, it would likely mean Apple and Androids OEMs alike would be free from patent infringement charges related to these patents.
"Apple and Google learned a lesson from the Nortel’s auction,” Richard Ehrlickman, president of IP Offerings, told Bloomberg. “They have decided to come together in this process to reduce the cost of purchasing the Kodak patents, while meeting their business needs.”
In 2011, Apple put together a group of buyers under the name of Rockstar Consortium to buy a massive trove of patents from bankrupt technology giant Nortel. That group included Apple, Microsoft, EMC, Ericsson, Sony and Research In Motion, and together they plunked down US$4.5 billion to secure the patents, leaving Google and Android in the cold.
If Bloomberg has it right, Apple and Google have decided to work together this time around, a move that means the great patent war between the two firms (by proxy) most likely will not expand to include Kodak's patents.
The patents up for auction are centered around digital imaging patents, and Kodak has extracted significant licensing agreements based on some of the key patents included in the auction. Kodak is looking to focus its business on commercial printing, enterprise services, and other specialized printing, effectively exiting the photography business it was built on.
Even while Apple works to bid on these patents, the company has fought the sale of a key patent that it said is based on technology misappropriated by Kodak from a joint venture between the two companies in the 1990s. Apple has largely been stymied in that effort, and the sale looks likely to go through...
...and Apple and Google, along with the other investors that make up their combined group are certainly well-positioned to acquire them. Now that the two groups won't be bidding against each other, they're likely to get them for a lower price, too.
Bloomberg reported that the group is looking to bid more than $500 million.