Apple and Google linked to $500m bid for Kodak patents

Apple and Google linked to $500m bid for Kodak patents

Summary: Apple and Google have teamed up to offer Kodak more than $500m for more than 1,000 digital imaging patents, according to online reports.

TOPICS: Patents, Apple, Google

Apple and Google have teamed up to offer Kodak more than $500m (£312m) for digital imaging patents to help the beleagured photography company stay afloat, according to reports.

The two companies have collaborated to buy an unspecified number of Eatman Kodak's 1,100 imaging patents, according to a Bloomberg report on 8 December, citing sources "familiar with the matter".

The patents for sale relate to the capture, manipulation and sharing of digital images, according to the report. 

The sources said Apple and Google teamed up so they could purchase the patents for a lower overall cost than if they tried to buy them individually. This isn't the first time there have been murmerings of this kind; the Wall Street Journal reported on the possible alliance between Apple and Google in August.

Previously, the WSJ reported that Apple and Google were each leading separate consortiums to purchase the patents in the range of $150m (£94m) to $250m (£156m).

The sale of the patent portfolios was originally expected to net Kodak in excess of $2bn, according to the company's legal team at the time of the bankruptcy filing.

Apple and Google had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

Kodak announced it was in financial difficulties in 2011 and started selling off its assets in a bid to raise capital.  

In January 2012, Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing total assets of $5.1bn (£3.18bn) but a debt of $6.8bn (£4.24bn) in its bankruptcy filing.

The company then took out a $950m (£591m) loan with Citigroup so that it could keep its operations going and took other measures such as selling off its personalised and digital imaging businesses, in a bid to claw its way out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings sometime in 2013.

Topics: Patents, Apple, Google

Sam Shead

About Sam Shead

Sam is generally at his happiest with a new piece of technology in his hands or nailing down an exclusive story. In the past he's written for The Engineer and the Daily Mail. These days, Sam is particularly interested in emerging technology, datacentres, cloud, storage and web start-ups.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Apple and Google?????

    That's a new one.
    • Actually it is a group lead by Apple and Group led by google.

      Apple group includes Microsoft, RIM and another venture capital firm. Google group includes a different set of companies.
      Ram U
      • Important Detail

        If Microsoft is in Apple's group, that changes things a bunch. I was wondering whether Microsoft would allow such important patents to go to Google and Apple but not themselves without a fight. If they're all in it together, then at least they can all play afterwards.
      • So then Apple and Google didn't team up?

        Which is it? It's a pretty big difference. Have things changed?
        Johnny Vegas
        • previously those two groups were competing and now they

          are offering together. That means, both Google (group) and Apple (group) are bidding together, not competing. The writer should be clear.
          Ram U
          • this is good news

            Allows everyone to go forward and it is nice to see them team up instead of fight it out.

            Btw it's Eastman Kodak
  • Smells Trouble...

    Lawsuits ahead? One can wonder who's the next target.
  • strange things are a foot at the circle k

    well perhaps they are all being sensible any buying the patents to use collaboratively, or just to stop anyone having absolute power over those areas the patents cover and will open source the technology.
    But Apple being Apple I suspect they plan to then screw+sue anyone else in the industry that they can once they own the patents.
    Capt Frickin Obvious
    • Very strange things are a foot at the circle k

      Ohh my God, who could have seen that coming. Apple a letigious patent troll organisation? Surely not.
  • think about this for a minute...

    Apple has more money than all competitors combined. If they wanted to grab all the patents so they could screw everybody, they could have easily outbid anyone else. But they are part of a consortium, so I bet these patents are something that all companies can use without fear of being sued. Apple sues companies that outright steal their product designs, and rightly so.
    • Apple might have the money, but when it comes to a bidding war against

      Microsoft and Google and perhaps others, it would be a lot more prudent to join forces than to end up buying patents at ridiculously high prices. Plus, there would be no assurance that they could win a bidding war against Microsoft or Google, since those two players are desperately trying to unseat Apple from the top in smartphones and tablets and in imaging involving those devices.
    • Not hard to figure

      Look you get a big cash stash like that by not spending money do not spend the money is first and last with lots of not spending in the middle.
    • Apple has more money than all competitors combined

      Yes, but think about the old miser that lives alone, wears tatty clothes and live in a dilapidated mansion, but has millions in the bank (or sewn into the mattress). He didn't get that way by going on spending sprees every weekend. Same goes for apple, they have billions in the banks because the don't (seem to) like spending it.
  • Is Kodak nuts?

    First off DIgital imaging patents is the LAST thing that they should sell off especially if they have developed produicts based on those patents. Digital is the wave of the future.

    Does Kodak really think they will survivbe selling Ektachrome , Kodachrome and D76? Thats all old technology and soon to be completely obsolete.

    This sale would seal the coffin for Kodak's death regardless of who the buyer is, or how myuch money they get now.

    What they need is restructuring to keep up with the times. They obviosly dont recognize they are selling off some of the most valuable assetts.
    • Re: Is Kodak nuts?

      as a former kodak employee you need to understand where they think their future lies. they have gotten out of the digital camera business (after originally inventing the camera back in 1975) and have plans to sell off the film business (consumer and professional, not motion picture), the kiosk and dry lab business (that you see in drug stores, retail chains, etc.) and their document imaging business (high speed scanners).

      their remaining business will primarily revolve around high speed commercial inkjet printing. will this strategy save kodak? who knows. but the kodak that was primarily known for picture taking will be long gone (unless whoever buys the kiosk/film business is allowed to use the branding).

      most people are not enamored with the current CEO and what he has done to the company and where he is taking it.

      but as far as the digital imaging patents (which i believe primarily dealt only with the camera portion of the business) there probably is not a need for them for the "future" kodak.

      as far as your comment of "restructuring to keep up with the times", i'm not sure what you are really referring to. we have restructured and downsized so many times in the last 20 years that is almost humorous (if not for the fact that so many jobs were lost). kodak employed 62,000 people back in 1982 in rochester. they are down to about 4,500 now!!
      • This is really too bad. I still have a Kodak

        CX7530 Digital camera, that works just as well as the day I bought it. Really sad to see this happen.

  • Restraint of trade

    Sounds as if this kind of market power to suppress prices, although good for the consumer, might also be of interest to the Justice department. The damaged party would, of course, be Kodak and any stockholders. Hopefully the consortium has advice of Counsel on that matter. I take no position; this is an analysis.