Apple and Google have a cordial relationship peppered with bouts of sparring and relentless competing for the world’s mobile users. Now the two companies have formed an unlikely – although not surprising – joint effort to acquire Eastman Kodak’s 1,100 patents, according to unnamed sources familiar with the issue. The patents will cost upwards of $500 million, with both companies having already tried acquiring them for lesser amounts independently.
The Apple-led group pursuing Kodak’s patents included Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures Management LLC as of this summer, the people said, while Google’s consortium included patent aggregation firm RPX Corp. and Asian manufacturers of Google’s Android phones.
Niki Fenwick, a spokeswoman for Mountain View, California- based 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 Wall Street Journal previously reported that a consortium offered more than $500 million for Kodak’s digital patents.
Kodak obtained commitments for $830 million exit financing last month, contingent on its sale of the digital imaging patents for at least $500 million.
The 132-year-old photography pioneer filed for bankruptcy protection in January, listing $5.1 billion in assets and $6.75 billion in debt. The company plans to exit bankruptcy in the first half of 2013.