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Apple & Google reportedly looking to buy Kodak patents

A handful of Silicon Valley’s biggest technology companies are preparing to bid on Kodak’s patents as the iconic photography company moves forward with its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Some 1,100 patents are to be auctioned off by Eastman Kodak, with today (30 July) marking the deadline for preliminary bids.

Apple has banded with Microsoft and patent aggregation company Intellectual Ventures Management as a major consortium, the Wall Street Journal has reported, citing “people familiar with the matter.” The other bidding group is said to include Google, patent aggregation firm RPX, and Samsung, LG, and HTC, all three of which are hardware partners for Google’s Android operating system.

Kodak has said that its patents could potentially be worth up to $2.6 billion (£1.65 billion), though some analysts have said that figure overvalues the company’s portfolio. Most of Kodak’s patents are in the realm of image capturing and processing techniques, but not in core mobile technology, making them considerably less valuable than patents held by other companies.

The auction date has been set for 8 August, with two lots on the block. One portfolio relates to the capturing and processing of images on mobile devices including cameras, smartphones, and tablets, while the other set includes technology used in the storage and analysis of images.

Kodak’s lawsuit against Apple and RIM, which alleged that the two companies infringed on a patent related to previewing photos on digital cameras, was dismissed last week by the International Trade Commission. Its ability to sell off its patents will prove to be important to Kodak as it struggles to emerge intact from its bankruptcy proceedings.

The formation of the bidding groups comes as patent battles between technology firms have reached their apex, with dozens of infringement cases unfolding in courtrooms around the world.