Apple, Google find common ground, team up to buy Kodak patents for $500M


Credit: Shutterstock / shyshak roman

Apple(s AAPL) and Google(s GOOG) may not agree on the best mobile mapping software. Or the best way to build a mobile operating system. But they apparently can agree on a good deal when they see one: the two companies have reportedly partnered to purchase Kodak’s bundle of 1,100 imaging patents, according to Bloomberg. The offer is said to be more than $500 million.

That the two would partner on a patent deal is somewhat surprising, given that they are direct competitors in making mobile software and selling smartphones and tablets. But Apple is no stranger to entering non-intuitive alliances in order to improve its patent position. In 2011 Apple worked with RIM(s RIMM), Microsoft(s MSFT) and Sony(s SNE) to snap up the intellectual property assets of Nortel Networks after that company went bankrupt. A Google-led consortium lost out to Apple’s group.

According to Bloomberg’s sources, both Apple and Google had initially led separate consortiums to try and purchase the Kodak patents this summer — on Apple’s side was Microsoft again and Intellectual Ventures; with Google was a mix of “Asian manufacturers of Android smartphones” and RPX, a group that defensively buys patents for its clients so they can’t be sued by non-practicing entities (patent trolls).

However, it appears that Google and Apple decided it was in both of their best interests to have access to theses patents together, showing that rationality can prevail, even in the midst of “thermonuclear war.”

Just this week Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was reflecting on the necessity that his company work with Apple, despite their differences. He told the Wall Street Journal, “The adult way to run a business is to run it more like a country. They have disputes, yet they’ve actually been able to have huge trade with each other. They’re not sending bombs at each other.”

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