On Friday, Bloomberg cited two people familiar with Kodak's ongoing bankruptcy proceedings who claim Apple and Google have become partners in a grab for 1,100 patents owned by the erstwhile photography monolith. Sources say the Apple-Google consortium was behind a bid placed a bid earlier this week.
When bidding first started, the companies led two separate teams, with Apple's consortium including Microsoft and patent holdings firm Intellectual Ventures, while Google joined up with RPX Corp. and a number of Asian handset manufacturers. At the time, it was thought that HTC and Samsung were part of Google's team.
Before the imaging patent auction began in August, Kodak estimated the value of its portfolio to fall between $2.2 and $2.6 billion, though the first round of bids were reportedly in the range of $150 million to $250 million. Under the terms of Kodak's $793 million loan agreement, the winning bid for the portfolio must not be lower than $500 million.
Interestingly, Kodak previously leveraged patents in a suit against Apple and HTC, as well as an ITC case against Apple and RIM, as a last-ditch effort to stay afloat. Apple subsequently took action and sued Kodak after claiming ownership of ten patents related to the QuickTake camera, which was a cooperative project between the two companies. A judge ultimately ordered the Cupertino, Calif., company to halt current and future litigation so the bankruptcy proceedings could continue.
In November, sources claimed both Apple and Google remained interested in the patent cache, and Kodak said it was "confident" that the minimum woud be reached.