Apple, Google Bid on Kodak Patents

Kodak’s patent portfolio goes on the auction block this Wednesday, but Apple and Google already have their opening bids in — and they come in well below the US$2.6 billion the camera maker is hoping for. Kodak is selling off the patents to help raise funds as part of its efforts to deal with Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Apple and Google offered bids between $150 million and $250 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. Those bids, however, could climb quickly come Wednesday as the two companies fight to keep Kodak’s patents out of each other’s hands.

Kodak's patent auction may not bring in as much cash as it wantsKodak’s patent auction may not bring in as much cash as it wants

Apple partnered with Microsoft is bidding through Intellectual Ventures Management, while Google is bidding with HTC, Samsung and LG Electronics through RPX Corp.

The patent portfolio could prove to be a valuable asset in the company’s legal battles over mobile device design infringement claims since it doesn’t cover parts of the mobile market that are considered core technology. Apple is currently involved in several cases over allegations that its iPhone and iPad infringe on other company’s patents, and is also accusing phone makers that rely on Google’s Android OS of using its own mobile device patents without licensing or authorization.

Apple’s highest profile case right now involves Samsung and is currently in its first week of trial in California. Both companies claim the other is using mobile device patents without proper licensing, and Apple has also accused Samsung of blatantly copying the iPad’s look and feel.

Apple is hoping to convince the jury that Samsung is flagrantly copying its ideas with images that show smartphone designs before and after the launch of the iPhone, and is claiming Samsung owes US$2.5 billion for patent infringement. Samsung claims Apple owes 2.4 percent of all iPhone sales for using its patents without proper licensing.

Kodak’s plans to pull itself out of bankruptcy with the patent sale may not work out as well as the company is hoping since bond holders are expecting the company will raise between $600 million and $700 million, which doesn’t come close to the $2.6 billion it is hoping for.

The patent auction officially starts tomorrow, and the winner will be announced on August 13.