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Patent smackdown: Apple teams up with Microsoft to bid against Google and Android OEMs for Kodak’s patents

July 28, 2012

The patent arms race is reaching a feeding-frenzy stage. Over the past months, we’ve witnessed a series of high profile legal spats between the technology companies that make our beloved gadgets. A quick recap of the most visible battles includes the Oracle vs Google trial, the Samsung vs Apple global conflagration, the Microsoft vs Motorola case that caused the ban of all Motorola devices in Germany, and the Apple vs HTC debacle, which affected the availability of the One X and the EVO 4G LTE in the USA.

Tech corporations are suing each other like madmen, but unfortunately, their actions mostly affect consumers. We get fewer products on the market, and the products that are available are made dumber. The war is likely to continue for the foreseeable future and the players are accruing weapons at a staggering rate.

A new stash of patents is about to be sold to the highest bidder. On Monday, the patent portfolio of Eastman Kodak, the legendary photography company, will be sold in an auction. Two major forces emerge as potential winners – on one side, Apple allied with Microsoft and patent troll aggregation firm Intellectual Ventures. On the other side, Google got together with the biggest Android OEMs – Samsung, HTC, and LG – along with a patent troll of its own, the RPX Corporation.

The two consortiums will try to win the battle over Eastman Kodak’s 1100 patents, most related to photographic technology. Kodak has a great deal of intellectual property that could prove essential for anyone manufacturing a product that incorporates a digital camera. According to WSJ, alliances are still made and broken, and the situation is still in flux.

As a reminder, it wouldn’t be the first time Google would square off with the Apple-Microsoft team – last year, Google lost the auction for Nortel’s patent trove, which eventually went to the Apple-Microsoft consortium for $4.5 billion. It’s unclear how valuable Kodak’s portfolio is, but experts seem to agree that it is far less valuable than Nortel’s stash.

We’ll keep you posted on any new developments next week.