Ardent smartphone rivals Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) may come together to buy the patent portfolio of photography company Kodak, according to one report, with deal negotiations and the bidding group’s composition still remaining fluid. The final group may even put together on the same side Apple and Samsung, which are currently engaged in a bitter courtroom battle against each other regarding smartphone patents, according to The Wall Street Journal.
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Kodak, which has put up almost 1,100 digital photography patents up for sale in an auction meant to generate funds as it tries to come out of bankruptcy, announced that it would delay the announcement of a winner. Earlier, Apple and Google had been reported to have formed their own separate consortiums to acquire the patents. The two groups stared their bids at around $150 million to $250 million, though Kodak was hoping to raise more than $2 billion. Last August, investment bank MDB Capital Group had said Kodak’s patents were worth $3 billion.
According to the latest report, though, a new consortium may include Apple, Google, Samsung, LG, and HTC. Any such grouping will definitely come under the scrutiny of antitrust regulators for competition concerns. The Journal also said that its sources warned that discussions may fall apart, with the auction ending without a deal.
Last year, a group composed of Apple, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) had paid $4.5 billion for patents held by Nortel Networks, outbidding Google. While the deal attracted the attention of the U.S. Justice Department, it was ultimately approved because the winning parties agreed to license the patents to outsiders.
Kodak’s intellectual property portfolio is also currently in court, with Apple disputing the validity of ten of the patents the photo company has put up for sale. The iPhone maker has claimed the two companies developed the technology together. While a judge threw out most of Apple’s claims on the basis that the company did not act fast enough to claim ownership, it was exempted from paying licensing fees.
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