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It did not take a genius to work out that as soon as a bottom line price for the Kodak patents emerged, an offer to buy them would be submitted which pretty much matched that sum. And it looks like that is exactly what has come to pass. More of a surprise is that the consortium which has tabled the bid seems to include both Apple and Google (as well as, perhaps, Microsoft, Intellectual Ventures and RPX).
While you can see why these companies might want the patents, it seems strange that the team handling the sale of the portfolio has allowed them to get together when you would have expected that encouraging them to compete against each other for the portfolio might have raised the amount that could have been generated. But, I suppose, if companies do not want to get into a bidding war, and are instead content to hold out for a relatively low price deal that involves all of them, there is not much that can be done. Perhaps ultimately this is an indication of the value those involved place on what has been on offer: patents that are useful to have access to, but are not game changers that you need and do not want your competitors to have. That said, I can’t help feeling that should the reports be accurate and the transaction is done, the anti-trust authorities are going to want a close look at the fine print of what has been agreed.
It’s also worth reflecting that if Apple and Google can cooperate on this patent matter, perhaps there are other ones they can also find an accommodation over. Perhaps the Kodak partnership will be the start of something bigger. After all, we know that there have been at least some top level smartphone peace talks between the companies.
But let’s finish on Kodak. Mike Pellegrino, president of Indianapolis-based Pellegrino and Associates, has sent me this chart, which tracks the company’s stock price against its US patent grants. The symmetry is spooky to say the least.
Patents, IP business, IP valuation