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Report: Apple, Google, Microsoft join forces to buy Kodak patents

The Register - The technology industry may be moving to a more cooperative mode on patents, with Apple, Google and Microsoft putting their patent disputes to one side for the sale of former photography giant Kodak's patent stack.

Kodak went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January and got a cash infusion based largely on the value that could be realized on the auction of its patent portfolio. Kodak has a huge amount of digital imaging patents and estimates the stack's value at over $2bn at current market rates.

According to Bloomberg, two consortia had been planning to bid on the patents. Apple, as it did in the Nortel patent buy, sided with Microsoft and ex-Microsoftie Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures with an opening bid of around $500m.

Meanwhile Google teamed up with a group of Asian smartphone vendors and patent firm RTX to offer a similarly sized rival bid and it might have been hoping to get the support of Kodak, since there's little love lost for Cupertino in the company at the moment.

Apple and Kodak have been involved in a fractious legal battle this year over the patent issue, with Kodak accusing Cupertino of trying to stall a sale, claiming ownership of ten patents in the auction. The courts sided with Kodak and now the bidding is back on and the company seeks funds.

Now, according to two sources, Apple and Google's groups have hammered out their differences and the two consortia have joined together to share costs.