Microsoft Corp. and Canon on Wednesday said that they have signed a broad patent cross-licensing agreement. Thanks to the new pact the two companies gain licenses to each other’s highly valued and growing patent portfolios. Theoretically, Canon’s licensing of Microsoft patents may indicate that the company is preparing a family of all-new products. The software giant may also be interested in Canon’s intellectual property for its own devices.
This agreement covers “a broad range of products and services” each company offers, including “certain digital imaging and mobile consumer products”, but exact contents of the agreement will not be disclosed. Given the fact that Microsoft is now a maker of mobile devices (thanks to acquisition of a division of Nokia Corp.), it may need imaging patents of Canon to boost its mobile hardware and software. What is, perhaps, more interesting is what type of IP Canon needs from Microsoft.
In the recent years the Redmond, Washington-based software giant licensed its intellectual property that covered mobile operating systems, including Google’s Android and Chrome.
As sales of consumer cameras drop, their manufacturers begin to eye smartphone users. For example, Samsung last year released an Android-based consumer camera which could upload photos to the Internet automatically. Canon’s arch-rival Nikon also talked about “non-camera consumer products” last year. Earlier this year rumours about a smartphone from Canon emerged, but did not sound realistic. Perhaps, smartphones with high-quality cameras or cameras with extensive functionality provided by the Android operating system are something that Canon needs Microsoft’s IP for.
It should be noted that any talk about Canon’s products featuring Microsoft IP or Google’s Android is a pure speculation at the moment. The company has a very broad product portfolio, so it could use the intellectual property for an extensive range of devices. Still, Canon and Microsoft did say that the former gets access to IP covering “mobile consumer products.”
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KitGuru Says: It will be definitely interesting to see what kind of mobile consumer products Canon plans to introduce. The smartphone market is crowded and it will be extremely hard for Canon to enter it. But an Android-based camera for consumers seems to be a good option…