updated 10:24 am EDT, Tue August 7, 2012
Bids ranging between $150-250 million
Kodak has received two patent bids from investor groups including Apple and Google of between $150 million and $250 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. The photography company is selling off some 1,100 patents related to digital imaging as a part of bankruptcy proceedings, hoping to pay off creditors. Kodak estimates that its patents could be worth as much as $2.6 billion; while the reported bids might seem extremely low by comparison, the auction will only officially begin on Wednesday, and bids are expected to rapidly increase in value. Reuters notes that in 2011, now-defunct Nortel Networks sold its patents for $4.5 billion, even though the first bids hit just $900 million.
Apple's involvement is particularly notable since the company has attempted to sue Kodak over some of the patents. In the past Kodak has accused Apple of trying to stop or delay the auction, or even sabotage it by lowering its value so it can seize the patents for itself. Apple has seen some setbacks in the lawsuit, but if it wins could still theoretically end up owing less to Kodak by clawing back some of the cash in damages or royalties. The situation could become even more complex if another party wins rights to the contested patents.
Kodak's patent pool is often seen as a potential weapon in the electronics industry. At a minimum it may be useful for defending against future lawsuits; it could alternately be made into an offensive tool, a means of deterring competition and/or forcing royalty payments from other businesses.