In a move that proves the patent lawsuits flying back and forth across the tech world are "strictly business," Apple, Google, Samsung, LG, HTC, and other tech companies are coming together to bid on the Kodak patents currently up for auction.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the tech companies and patent troll companies who have been bidding on parts of the Kodak patent portfolio have agreed to purchase the entire portfolio collectively. It states that the sale could net Kodak around $500 million - far less than the $2.2 billion Kodak estimated its patents to be worth. WSJ quotes unnamed "people familiar with the negotiations" as saying Kodak could end the auction without selling the patents.
While this may seem to be a kumbaya moment for silicon valley, consider that this consortium is unlikely to welcome industry newcomers who want to use the patents. A group this large will certainly have the lawyers to defend the Kodak patents, and it also includes some companies well-known as patent trolls. The WSJ quotes a patent-law expert as stating that as long as the companies agree to license the patents at reasonable rates, they should face no antitrust problems.
Kodak filed for bankruptcy at the beginning of this year, after failing to adapt its camera business quickly enough to accommodate newer photography technologies. The company began to sell off its assets not long after in an effort to raise the money to emerge from bankruptcy. Kodak's patents are some of its most valuable assets, as Kodak undoubtedly owns some very old and very lucrative patents that cover devices or designs found in almost every type of camera, including those found in smartphones and tablets. Kodak and Apple have sued each other this year over a patent dispute stemming from a collaboration in the early 90s.