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.
Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy back in January of this year, showing $5.1 billion in assets and $6.5 billion in debt. That debt includes a rather hefty $950 million Citigroup loan, which Kodak will pay off in part with the money it makes from the patent sales. If all goes as planned, Kodak anticipates being out of bankruptcy by June 2013.
It is not uncommon for companies to form a group and jointly bid on patents. Before joining up, Apple and Google both led their own groups in pursuit of the patents. Apple was joined by the likes of Microsoft and Intellectual Venture Management LLC, while Google was joined by manufacturers of Android smartphones and the RPX Corporation. The offers for the patents fell between $150 million and $250 million.
Recent examples of companies jointly acquiring patents includes 2011’s band of Apple, RIM, EMC, Sony Ericsson, Microsoft, and Sony shelling out $4.5 billion for 6,000 Nortel Networks patents and patent applications. Google did not offer a comment when questioned about the matter, saying only that it doesn’t comment on rumors. Likewise, Apple has remained silent amidst the speculation.