Google, Apple Join Together to Buy Patent ProtectionWell, this is a little surprising. Google and Apple, two superpowers of the tech world who are locked in a not-so-cold patent war, have decided to get together and jointly buy a patent portfolio from Kodak.
Its no secret that Kodak is in trouble. The once great film company failed to capitalize on the move to digital cameras before it was too late, and we've seen them desperately dilute their brand in a vain attempt to hold off inevitable bankruptcy. One of their most valuable assets, however, and one that the company had been holding back on for quite a while, are the patents accrued over a century of active development. Kodak's skunkworks were once second to none.
That Google and Apple would go in together to buy those valuable patents might be shocking, but it is a sound business move--perhaps an indication that the "thermonuclear war" of the Jobs era is finally coming to a close. Both companies have been attacked vigorously by the likes of Microsoft and more, and the move grants both parties plenty of patents to fire salvos back with. The patent wars, after all, are fought with patents.
Both companies had put up offers on the 1,100 patents individually, but apparently both were also concerned about a third party patent troll getting ahold of them. Together, the two companies can practically insure that the patents won't be used to hamper either company's phone development.
The details on the deal aren't known, but it is possible that it is, in fact, equitable. Much like the deal that Apple made with HTC, of which one of the key tenants was "don't copy our phones." The rest of the deal was practically unnecessary.
For Kodak, this is a new leash on life. The company managed to secure emergency financing predicated on the sale of these patents for at least $500 million. With a sale of $900 million, Kodak will have no problem meeting the goal, and will continue dangling by a thread.