Apple and Google might be opponents competing for smartphone and tablet customers, but according to a Bloomberg report they have joined forces to acquire Eastman Kodak's 1,000 imaging patents for more than $500 million. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the possible alliance in August. Previously, the Journal reported that Apple and Google were each leading separate consortiums to purchase the patents in the range of $150 million to $250 million.
Eastman Kodak, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, needs to sell the patents to help pay down a $950 million loan from Citigroup. The company said that it expects to exit bankruptcy in 2013. Court documents earlier this year revealed that the company valued its patent portfolio in the range of $2.6 billion.
Apple and Google were on opposite sides in another contest for high-stakes technology patents. In July 2011, a consortium of technology companies comprising Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion, and Sony bought some 6,000 patents and patent applications from Nortel Networks for $4.5 billion. Rivals Google and Intel reportedly began the bidding for the intellectual property, which included patents and patent applications for wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, Internet, and semiconductor technologies, at $900 million.
The digital imaging patents, which are relevant to cameras, smartphones, and other devices, could help both Apple and Google, who are engaged in numerous patent disputes. Apple has been embroiled in patent disputes with Samsung and other Google Android-based vendors. The joint effort to procure the patents could auger a less litigious atmosphere in the future.
CNET's Don Reisinger and Steven Musil contributed to this report.