Companies enter into patent agreements from time to time. After all sometimes it is necessary that you use another company’s technology, and unless you want to be hit with a lawsuit and have your products banned from being sold, entering into a licensing agreement is probably a smart way to go about doing business. Interestingly enough recently both Microsoft and Canon have entered into a patent agreement. While the details of the agreement are scarce, what caught the eye of many was this particular line, which claims that the agreement “covers a broad range of products and services each company offers, including certain digital imaging and mobile consumer products.”
Microsoft and Canon are taking their alliance to the next level. A broad patent cross-licensing agreement will alllow either company to use patents filed by the other. Microsoft and Canon have some of the largest and most valuable patent portfolios in the world. In 2012 alone, Microsoft filed over 2,000 patents, and Canon over 3,000. Both companies were ranked in the top five companies in their industry according to IEEE Spectrum’s Patent Power 2013 ranking, and Microsoft was No. 1 in computer software. “This collaborative approach with Canon allows us to deliver inventive technologies that benefit consumers around the world,” says Microsoft’s intellectual property manager Nick Psyhogeosin in a statement. “Microsoft believes cooperative licensing is an effective way to accelerate innovation while reducing patent disputes.” With Microsoft’s recent purchase of the hardware division of Nokia, its motivation for acquiring access to Canon patents is obvious. Canon is a world leader in imaging technology, and putting better cameras into Windows phones could help them gain ground against far more popular Android and iOS devices. What’s not entirely clear is what Canon gets out of the deal. The company largely sticks to imaging technology, and thus would seem to have little use for Microsoft’s mobile or software patents. However, there are a few possibilities.