back to article Report: Apple, Google, Microsoft join forces to buy Kodak patents

The technology industry may be moving to a more cooperative mode on patents, with Apple, Google and Microsoft putting their patent disputes to one side for the sale of former photography giant Kodak's patent stack. Kodak went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January and got a cash infusion based largely on the value that could be …

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  1. cyke1

    only reason why

    only reason they are joining forces is cause if someone else gets these patents its gonna end up being massive litigation against each other. this way they can pay a fraction what they would have to pay if they did it them selves and they got high chance to be top bidder.

    1. Antidisestablishmentarianist
      Holmes

      Re: only reason why

      Well, duh!

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: only reason why

        "Psst, Stalin!"

        "What!"

        "You know about Poland?"

        "Yeah. I still want to f*ck them good for what they did to our glorious army in 1920."

        "Don't mention it, I though Berlin would be a goner. So, you know .... I wanna have Prussia back?"

        "Kay? So?"

        "Maybe we could, you know. Share costs?"

        "Hmm..."

        "Come on. You know want it. I can even leave you the biggish parts."

        "Hmmmmm...."

        "It will be like 1914 again! Joined along a common border!"

        "Okay, but no funny business this time!"

        "Sure. So, deal?"

        "Deal!"

    2. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: only reason why

      It's called a patent pool and means you don't sue each other.

      But anyone one of you can take action against someone who isn't in the pool. Its very cosy.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shelf life?

    Exactly how long does a patent last and how many could Kodak have that are not near expiration? Have patents been extended to the ridiculous length that copyrights have?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shelf life?

      20yrs

  3. Tom 35 Silver badge

    How?

    "it could free start-ups to innovate the next generation of companies without the fear of being sued into the ground"

    If Apple, Google, Micorosoft... buy up big piles of patents as a group how is that going to help a startup. Microsoft even have their own pet troll to deal with any uppity startups.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: How?

      In an ideal world each party is so paranoid about the other two that they ensure all are barred from enforcing the patents in any capacity; the joint venture makes the patents effectively just go away. Though probably they'll just agree some sort of veto and the problem will be exactly what you describe.

  4. The Alpha Klutz

    patents are for satan worshippers

    if you buy or sell a patent then you should go to prison. thats where you should go. scum.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: patents are for satan worshippers

      LOL. They are protection that allow inventors to come up with a new idea and profit from it instead of being ripped off by a big company immediately after putting the new product on sale.

      Of course the problem now is large companies are using them against the smaller companies or rivals.

      1. The Alpha Klutz

        LOL. They are protection that allow inventors to come up with a new idea and profit from it

        wrong. they provide a comfortable feeling of security for billionaires who invent nothing but they think its their right to just buy whatever they want and destroy it. they are more interested in fighting with each other which means they all have to buy lots of patents. they dont read the patents even. you're talking Harold Shipman levels of deviancy.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: LOL. They are protection that allow inventors to come up with a new idea and profit from it

          "Harold Shipman levels of deviancy"

          To compare Harold Shipman, a doctor who killed several hundred of his patients, with people who buy and sell patents, you need to have Richard $tallman levels of mental illness.

          1. KjetilS
            FAIL

            Re: LOL. They are protection that allow inventors to come up with a new idea and profit from it

            ... have Richard $tallman levels of mental illness.

            Usually, the use of $ instead of 's' in a name, either company- or personal name, signals that the entity is more interested in profit and money than anything else, often with a complete disregard to others.

            I would really like to know how you think Richard Stallman fits into that category.

            1. hayseed
              Angel

              Re: LOL. They are protection that allow inventors to come up with a new idea and profit from it

              Richard ~$tallman

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: patents are for satan worshippers

      What's wrong with worshipping satan?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. The Alpha Klutz

        Re: What's wrong with worshipping satan?

        it leads one to buy patents. Under the eye of GOD inventions are not transferable. This is a fact of creation and can not be challenged except by the most evil and spineless billionaires. These are people who know they would be killed in public. Why do you think they live in gated communities?

        1. Graham Dawson

          Re: What's wrong with worshipping satan?

          Oh shut up, you old goat. Who are you? I do not know you.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What's wrong with worshipping satan?

          Doesn't god live in a gated community? He has St. Peter as a bouncer. Eden was a gated community as well.

          If god created man, then he created this billionaires and has a plan for them. Who are you to question your god?

      3. Kwac

        Re: patents are for satan worshippers

        Sorry, that should read "what's wrong with worshipping Santa".

    3. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: patents are for satan worshippers

      One minor problem. A poor individual inventor typically doesn't have the resources to actually produce the implementation of the patent and sell the resultant product. That means she must take on investors who effectively buy part of the patent or the inventor simply sells or licenses the patent to some company and goes on to invent something else. The latter is the path often taken by people who like to invent but don't really want to build or run a company. It doesn't make them imaginary enemy who lives in fire worshipers, it makes them inventors who only want to invent.

      1. The Alpha Klutz

        Re: patents are for satan worshippers

        if i was a businessman i would never invest in any patented ideas. Let's say I'm an inventor and I want to "protect" (wink wink) my invention. I know what I'll do, I'll show it to loads of lawyers (a class of people who cant tell the truth) then i will put exact details of how to copy my invention on a global public database, and for the privilege i'm going to pay hard earned money through the dick.

        OR, I could go to market first WITHOUT PATENT and anyone who wanted to steal my idea can crack it open and find out how it works by trial and error WHICH TAKES A LOT LONGER THAN READING THE PATENT.

        CHINESE COMPANIES READ PATENTS TO FIND OUT HOW TO INFRINGE THEM.

        And you wanna tell me its a way to protect IP. What a fucking joke. What a fucking joke.

        1. The Alpha Klutz

          Re: patents are for satan worshippers

          and at the end of the day, if the chinese want to print fraudulent patent numbers on their goods, or fraudulent safety certificates, or put toxic chemicals in everything, they will do it anyway because its all the same shit anyway. two factories next to each other, one making the real product, the other making the clone with B stock and B staff. its routine.

          1. The Alpha Klutz

            Re: patents are for satan worshippers

            and of course we know from bitter experience that many patents are simply tooabstract to be tenable.

            Its a ridiculous system, and what happens as it grows? Are we still going to have to look for prior art in a thousand years time? Who is going to look through thousands of years of patents? Who really cares? Bankers, billionaires, and scum. No one else.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: patents are for satan worshippers

      Well done, never seen someone so ignorant of the real world in my life (at let's face it, there's a lot of competition on here).

      Let take someone like GSK.

      Their annual research budget is in the region of £4-5billion, not £4-5, or £4-5000 but £4-5 BILLION (a bigger budget than most nations as a whole spend on R&D)

      Now scrap all the patents as some retard may think is a great plan.

      So, for example the have spent £20billion on a cure for cancer over several years, and release a very expensive drug (even if they sold it for as little as £100 each they would never make the money back).

      However little factory in Pakistan or China, decides to clone it and as they have spent FA on R&D can sell it for £10 a pill, pretty much stopping all sales of GSK's product.

      So do tell, why on earth would someone like GSK spend billions on a product, when they know it will most likely put them out of business? As a result, we don't get the cures for cancer, HIV, or the next Flu epidemic.

      So come on Genius, without patents, fix this issue?

      1. The Alpha Klutz

        Re: As a result, we don't get the cures for cancer, HIV, or the next Flu epidemic.

        boo hoo

      2. paul 97
        IT Angle

        Re: patents are for satan worshippers

        they would never research a CURE for cancer as that would be a one off sale. Instead drugs that would help with your condition but require you to buy them for the rest of your life.

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          3. Anonymous Coward
            Trollface

            Re: patents are for satan worshippers

            Klutz, even for a troll you are a be of a retard.

            So Cancer didn't exist before "thousands" of nukes were exploded.

            I know, I know...trolls and feeding.

      3. vic 4

        So come on Genius, without patents

        What you said is right. There are a lot of valid patents that have been correctly issued.

        What we are seeing are loads or ridiculous patents been awarded for the 'patently' obvious. These patents are then being used to stifle innovation. It's not like the drug companies are patenting rounded corners on their tablets.

        However, some people are getting carried away with the recent patent backlash and instead of directing their arguments to the patent trolls they are making general remarks, which in context of patents in general are just nonsense.

  5. JaitcH
    WTF?

    This is BAD news for ...

    lawyers, litigants actually talking to each other?

    Perhaps there will be another 'accidental' meeting again, as there was between Jobs and Schmidt, and whole bunch of other stupidity will be sorted out.

    With Apple shares off 25% from it's peak, both sides would benefit on the stock markets. I read that Wall Street is a little concerned about innovation and if TV is to be the next arena, given the raging sales of Android products against those of Apple, and the obvious tie in between smartphones and whatever happens in the TV area, the faster someone actually gets to market, the faster they will make money.

    1. Criminny Rickets
      Devil

      Re: This is BAD news for ...

      "lawyers, litigants actually talking to each other?"

      Of course it's not. The lawyers will just convice some pour startup to sue Microsoft, Apple and Google for collusion on the patents, in the District Court of East Texas . It doesn't matter what the outcome of the trial is, the lawyers on both sides still win.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An amicable agreement

    between Apple, Microsoft and Google would benefit all three in the long term. Sadly, they don't seem to see it that way.

    1. bobbles31

      Re: An amicable agreement

      It's a wonderful example of the prisoners dilema, if all the companies cooperated then they would all suffer minimal costs and could freely innovate. If one of them sets out to gain the patents then all would suffer substantial costs and innovation would be stifled.

      I've always thought that the duration of a patent should be based on returns. Once a patent has returned the research and development costs and given the inventor a healthy return then patent protection no longer applies. This should apply particularly where a patent is considered a component of a bigger system.

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: An amicable agreement

        Beyond all the added complexity it would never work. The same tricks used to create movies / records that make no money, or even companies that make no profit would be used to make sure a patent never pays off.

        I think the first step should be to ban "non-practising entities" from holding patents. Use it or lose it.

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: An amicable agreement

        > I've always thought that the duration of a patent should be based on returns.

        > Two downvotes, no upvotes

        MFW

  7. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  8. nuked
    Meh

    They should set up a system with tiers, with some patents only lasting for a short period to ensure first-mover advantage.

    The current system is extremely broken, and everyone agrees. The massive headache is how to migrate to a different system from the one we are all currently trapped within.

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Tiered

      Good idea but rather than breaking out by patent type, go by date of application. For the first five years the person/company applying for the patent is in total control but it is then handed over to a central body who determine the licence fee for the next five years at which point it becomes public domain. By having a single body set the licence fee you prevent a further tranche of problems.

      The difficulty with breaking out by patent type is that the arguments would simply change to which type of patent it is.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Naïve question..

    IANAL; but as 90% of those patent issues seem to swirl around the US, isn't it easier just to avoid being a US company when you do business? As far as I can see, the EU seems to still have a slightly more sane approach to the original concept.

    The patent idea was originally to give inventors some breathing room to benefit from their inventions, but that purpose has since long been buried under protectionism and the gaming by lawyers to create conflict, and so revenue.

    Personally I'm no longer sure what has caused more damage to innovation: the patent system or Microsoft. I think both, actually.

  10. Thomas 4
    Headmaster

    ...

    Never, ever use the word "frenemies" again on this website.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: ...

      Really, it just leads to confusion and chaos.

      "The enemy of my frenemy is my...?"

      The frenemy on my enemy is my...?"

      "The frenemy of my frenemy, that's not me is my...?"

      "Aw, screw it! Launch the nukes!"

      I think I'll just stick to friends, enemies and "friends of convenience" myself, it's safer!

  11. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Unhappy

    So MS, Apple and Google are forming the patent version of the Legion of Doom?

    This is just an example of the patent-troll rich getting richer, at the expense of dynamism and innovation in the tech industry.

    Come to think of it, Steve Ballmer does look like an out-of-shape Lex Luthor....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Devil

      Re: So MS, Apple and Google are forming the patent version of the Legion of Doom?

      Watching "Ruins of the Third Reich"....... The Glory Years......

      Patents... patents, patents..

      I wonder what will have become of them all in another 50 years time?

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: So MS, Apple and Google are forming the patent version of the Legion of Doom?

      Come to think of it, Steve Ballmer does look like an out-of-shape Lex Luthor....

      IMO, he's more like Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

  12. g e
    Holmes

    The great fresh smell of...

    Patent Cartel

    I sense an even more revolting evolution in the whole patent thing is happening

  13. Nya
    WTF?

    Is it April?

    Something has to be wrong, this is sense in something regarding patents. Can't be right, must be an early April fools or something. It'll soon blow up with in fighting I am sure.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why bother?

    "Kodak ...is hoping to use the proceeds of the sale to relaunch itself as a printing and packaging manufacturer."

    Why bother? They should just put a figurative bullet through their head - it'd be a more graceful way of committing suicide..

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The shareholders would like something back

    I guess that's why. People who own shares in something that has a value should expect a return when that value is realised. Just saying ...

  16. Panicnow
    Black Helicopters

    US Anti-trust Laws

    DO they not apply to Apple, Google, Microsoft?

    Bet they would if Samsung, Sony and HTC had got together!!

    Imperialism - A sweet Mint

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: US Anti-trust Laws

      I think history shows that the laws apply (to MS at least), its just that no-one bothers to follow up usefully.

      Fines are a cost of doing business.

      1. Robert Grant
        Facepalm

        Re: US Anti-trust Laws

        Yeah, interestingly there's no massive EU slapdown on Apple's not allowing competing browsers on its huge marketshare for phones and tablets.

        Compare this to: MS totally allowing competing browsers on Windows XP, but just installing their one by default.

        1. KjetilS
          FAIL

          Re: US Anti-trust Laws (@Robert Grant)

          Apple doesn't have anything close to a monopoly...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: US Anti-trust Laws (@Robert Grant)

            Tablet market, prior to a year or two ago?

  17. mrfill
    Happy

    Where's wally?

    Gosh! An article containing the words 'Apple' and 'patent' which doesn't mention the word 'Samsung'

    There's a first

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