New York/San Francisco: A pple 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 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.
Unlikely partnerships are typical in patent sales because they allow competitors to neutralize potential infringement litigation. A group including Apple, Microsoft Corp. and Research in Motion Ltd bought Nortel Networks Corp.’s more than 6,000 patents for $4.5 billion out of bankruptcy last year. Google lost the auction for those patents after making an initial offer of $900 million.
“Apple and Google learned a lesson from the Nortel’s auction,” said Richard Ehrlickman, former vice-president of intellectual property at International Business Machines Corp. and president of IP Offerings, a patent brokerage and consulting company in Boca Raton, Florida. “They have decided to come together in this process to reduce the cost of purchasing the Kodak patents, while meeting their business needs.”
Niki Fenwick, a spokeswoman for Google, said the company doesn’t comment on rumor or speculation. Christopher Veronda, a spokesman for Rochester, New York-based Kodak, declined to comment on the patent sale, citing a court-ordered confidentiality agreement. Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, declined to comment.
The patents for sale relate to the capture, manipulation and sharing of digital images. Kodak is selling them to fund a turnaround after seeking Chapter 11 protection in January. Bloomberg
Dina Bass in Seattle and Adam Satariano in San Francisco contributed to this story.