Reported by Bloomberg recently, smartphone competitors Apple and Google have submitted a joint bid of more than half a billion dollars for Eastman Kodak’s 1,100 imaging patents remaining in the company’s portfolio. Both Apple and Google had attempted to purchase Kodak’s patents separately, but all attempts were unsuccessful up to this point. Apple was working with Microsoft and Google as working with a variety of unnamed Android smartphone manufacturers when the original bids of $150 to $250 million were placed during Kodak’s auction. Representatives for both Apple and Google have declined to comment on the reported partnership and Kodak representatives hasn’t disclosed the total amount of the joint bid from the two companies.
After CES 2012 came to a close in early January, Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to dwindling revenue from camera film sales as well as increased competition in the digital imaging space. At the time of the filing, Kodak reported approximately five billion dollars in assets and nearly seven billion dollars in total debt.
During November 2012, Kodak was able to secure $830 million in exit financing. However, access to that money was contingent on the sale of Kodak’s imaging patent portfolio for a price above $500 million. Prior to the patent auction in August, Kodak estimated the entire patent portfolio was worth between $2.2 to $2.6 billion.
While the partnership between Apple and Google clearly doesn’t give either company an edge regarding patent ownership, it will allow both companies to avoid spending money on litigation over the Kodak patents in the coming years. Strategically, it also halts Kodak representatives from spurring a continued bidding war between the two companies. Without a strong bargaining position, Kodak will likely be forced to take the offer in order to finalize the bankruptcy process unless a new bidder comes forth.