Google, Apple team up to try to acquire Kodak patents

A recent court case involving Google Inc. and Apple Inc. being on the same side may cause some eyebrows to rise. But the California technology behemoths are teaming up in a joint effort to buy hundreds of millions of dollars of patents held by the bankrupt Eastman Kodak Co.

Kodak, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year and is aggressively trying to remake itself into a streamlined commercial printing company, has been trying to sell some of its patents. The unlikely duo of Apple and Google are reportedly offering more than $500 million to buy a portion of Kodak’s approximately 1,100 patents that have to do with imaging technology.

People involved in the negotiations said the partnership is more common than people think because it gives both companies a chance to avoid patent lawsuits in the future. The two companies have been locked in litigation over various smartphone technologies.

The patents in question reportedly have to do with taking, editing and sharing digital images, which would seem to be right up the alley of both companies. According to court documents, Kodak has estimated the patents may be worth up to $2.57 billion. But a president of a patent consulting firm, estimated that the patents could be “worth much less” because Kodak has already licensed them to several electronics companies in a bid to raise revenue.

Avoiding future patent litigation between Apple and Google is a good enough reason to try to team up. Neither company likely enjoys spending the money and hours fighting each other in court. Sometimes in the complicated world of intellectual property, it’s better to avoid a fight.

Source: Bloomberg, “Microsoft, Porsche, Heineken: Intellectual Property,” Victoria Slind-Flor, Dec. 11, 2012