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Following last month’s report that Apple and Google were heading up separate consortiums bidding to obtain Kodak’s portfolio of digital imaging patents, The Wall Street Journal now reports that the two camps may surprisingly be joining the same team. The negotiations are reportedly seeing Apple joining forces with its courtroom foes Samsung and HTC, as well as smartphone platform rival Google, in an effort to obtain the patents for a price well below that sought by Kodak.

The bidding group brings together a raft of strange bedfellows. It includes Apple Inc. and Google Inc., fierce competitors in the global smartphone market. It also includes Intellectual Ventures Management LLC, which buys up patents to seek licensing revenue and increasingly sue other companies for infringement, and RPX Corp., which buys patents to keep them from being used against its members in suits.

People familiar with the matter said the consortium bidding on Kodak’s patents also includes Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics Inc. and HTC Corp., all companies building smartphones based on Google software.

The report notes that the large consortium of competitors is seeking to purchase Kodak’s patent portfolio for “more than $500 million”, above opening bids but well below the $2.2-$2.6 billion Kodak has been hoping to win. A win by the consortium could help prevent litigation over the patents by keeping them out of the hands of a single company, but antitrust regulators could raise complaints over the move.

As a result of the volatile negotiations, Kodak has extended bidding several times and has indicated that may end up pulling some or all of its patents from the auction block if pricing is not in line with what it feels it needs to assist with its bankruptcy issues.

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