Apple and Microsoft to team up for Kodak's patents?

The fierce competitors could once again pool their resources to snatch up a collection of high-value patents from Kodak.

Apple and Microsoft could once again join forces to bid on a collection of patents from a beleaguered technology giant, says a new report.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the two companies -- along with Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures -- plan to band together to snatch up some or all of Kodak's patent portfolio. Initial bids for that collection of 1,100 patents are due at the beginning of next week.

The companies could face an opposing team made up of other rivals including Google, Samsung, HTC, and LG, along with San Francisco-based patent buyer and licensor RPX, the report says.

In Apple and Microsoft's case, the collaboration would be a reprisal of sorts. In June of last year, Apple, along with EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion, and Sony went in on a successful bid for Nortel's patent portfolio . The group beat out rivals including Intel and Google with its $4.5 billion bid for the intellectual property, which included patents and patent applications for wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, Internet, and semiconductor technologies. Google was the first bidder, pledging $900 million in cash.

In Kodak's case, the Journal suggests the portfolio could be worth less than half of Nortel's selling value. Kodak, for its part, is splitting it up into two major sections. That includes one set of 700 patents covering digital-capture technology, and another 400 for document imaging technologies. Those patents went up for sale last year, though bidding fell through when reports of the company's shaky financial situation went public.

Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January. The company is required to sell off some of its intellectual property collection as part of a $950 million loan it received from Citigroup to keep it up and running in the interim.

Kodak's portfolio is the latest collection of patents and patent applications to go up for sale in recent months. Besides the aforementioned Nortel, King of Prussia, Pa.-based Interdigital sold off 1,700 of its patents to Intel last month in a deal worth $374 million. Before that, Microsoft dropped more than $1 billion for patents from AOL. And last, but certainly not least, was Google's purchase of Motorola, which closed earlier this year. In an SEC filing earlier this week, Google said that Motorola's patents and other assorted technology were worth $5.5 billion, a little under half the $12.4 billion Google paid for the company.

 

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