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Google, Apple start bidding for Kodak's digital patents

August 7, 2012

WSJ reported yesterday that Kodak’s upcoming patent auction already has 2 bidders: Google and Apple, and each has bids between $150 million and $250 million so far. Kodak, however, is expecting up to $2.6 billion for its 1,100 digital patents to pay off its creditors.

This may be wishful thinking for Kodak, but who knows how fast the bids will escalate with Apple in there. Apple doesn’t really care about the money they have to spend, so they will try to at least raise the cost for Google as much as possible provided Google does retain them eventually.

The two companies are not actually bidding by themselves, but are leaders of 2 consortium of companies. On Google’s side, there seem to be Android manufacturers genuinely interested in defending themselves against the likes of Apple and Microsoft, like Samsung, HTC and LG, while on Apple’s side there’s Microsoft and the known patent troll, Intellectual Ventures.

You can only imagine that these companies are not looking to use those patents defensively. If Apple gets some of Kodak’s patents, they will probably use them to put more injunctions on Android manufacturers. Microsoft would try to get even more money from the companies they are charging for alleged patent infringements. Intellectual Ventures would just spread them out to certain patent troll shell companies to sue other companies, including Android manufacturers.

Kodak has denied the leaked information, which makes sense as they don’t want to upset some of the bidders. Google and their consortium would have the most to suffer from this because if Apple and the others know they are bidding, they will just keep raising the price. But I think they already knew there was a high chance Google would bid for them. Hopefully, history won’t repeat itself like with the Nortel patents, and Google and their partners will obtain the goods without incident.