Are Apple and Google Putting Aside Their Differences to Team Up?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) may not be the best of friends, but the smartphone platform leaders have reportedly teamed up to offer a bid for Kodak patents worth over $500 million. Apple and Google are trying to get hold of 1,100 Kodak patents related to digital imaging, Bloomberg said, and placed a common bid early last week.

What’s up for Offer in the Patent Sale?

Kodak had initially estimated the value of its for-sale portfolio between $2.2 and $2.6 billion after arguing that it had generated more than $3 billion in revenue by licensing some of the patents to users, including Samsung, LG, Google unit Motorola, and Nokia (NYSE:NOK). However, some contend that because it has already been widely licensed, the portfolio is worth much less. The first bids received by the company were said to range only between $150 million and $250 million. Kodak’s bankruptcy loan conditions, though, need the winning offer to be higher than $500 million.

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Kodak and Apple had also been involved in a lawsuit related to some of the patents that are part of the sale. After Kodak alleged violation by Apple, the iPhone maker countersued the photo company over the ownership of ten patents that had reportedly been developed jointly by the two. A judge finally ordered a halt in litigation to ensure the continuation of the bankruptcy proceedings…

Why is the Potential Partnership Good for Apple and Google?

When the bidding process first began in August in what is essentially Kodak’s attempt to collect enough cash to pay off its bankruptcy creditors and get back into business, Apple and Google had led separate bids. Apple’s bidding team was formed along with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and patent holdings firm Intellectual Ventures, while Google was joined by several of its Android partners, including Samsung and HTC, and RPX Corp.

Patent sale partnerships usually allow rivals to avoid potential infringement litigation. A group including Apple, Microsoft, and Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) had last year defeated a Google-led team for patents belonging to Nortel Networks. The winning group ultimately paid $4.5 billion, while Google’s initial offer had been for $900 million.

“Apple and Google learned a lesson from the Nortel’s auction,” patent specialist Richard Ehrlickman told Bloomberg. “They have decided to come together in this process to reduce the cost of purchasing the Kodak patents, while meeting their business needs.”

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