Kodak is currently trying to sell of a big portfolio of patents, that they’ve previously said could be worth over $2 billion. There’s been some interest in the patents from a variety of parties, from actual technology companies that would like to use the patents, to patent hoarding companies that would use them to sue others and collect licensing fees on them. Kodak is obviously hoping the competing companies bid against each other, raising the price and making them more money. It looks like that might not be how it goes down, however, as many of the biggest bidders are joining forces.
The Wall Street Journal reports that rival tech giants Apple and Google, along with two patent hoarders (Intellectual Ventures Management LLC and RPX Corp.) have made an agreement to join forces and buy the patents. This will prevent them bidding against each other and driving the price up, and allow them all to use the patents contained in the portfolio without suing each other.
It’s a smart plan, but it might not make some other parties too happy. Kodak will obviously be displeased, since they won’t get nearly as many competing bids on the patents. Right now, sources are saying a mere $500 million is on offer, less than a quarter of what Kodak was hoping for. The FTC may also get involved, as such a large consortium of buyers may raise antitrust issues.
If the alliance is successful in purchasing the portfolio, they might have some hard questions to answer from the FTC. For now, though, it looks like they’re getting set to get a hell of a bargain on an extensive tech-related patent portfolio.