Picture this. The companies enter into a cross-licensing agreement to boost one another's R&D efforts.
Another device maker has taken Microsoft up on its offer to share IP.
Microsoft has entered into a patent cross-licensing deal with Canon, the Japanese camera and imaging equipment maker. "With this agreement, Microsoft and Canon gain licenses to each other's highly valued and growing patent portfolios," said the companies in a joint statement.
The collaboration between the companies will allow them "to deliver inventive technologies that benefit consumers around the world," Nick Psyhogeos, general manager and associate general counsel of IP licensing in Microsoft's Innovation and Intellectual Property Group, said in prepared remarks. Indeed, the companies prefaced the announcement by stating that the deal would encourage "collaboration on R&D."
Citing a long history of working together on consumer products and color technology, Microsoft said the deal "covers a broad range of products and services each company offers, including certain digital imaging and mobile consumer products." Canon's Hideki Sanatake, senior general manager at Canon's Corporate Intellectual Property and Legal unit, described the accord as a "natural extension of our longstanding relationship with Microsoft."
Terms and specifics are being kept under wraps. Notably, the companies made no mention of the Android operating system, a magnet for IT industry court disputes.
"Microsoft believes cooperative licensing is an effective way to accelerate innovation while reducing patent disputes," added Psyhogeos. And Microsoft is no stranger to patent dust-ups.
On Dec. 23, 2013, Google filed a lawsuit against Rockstar
, a patent consortium headed by Microsoft and Apple. The legal action was taken after Rockstar filed lawsuits against ASUS, HTC and Samsung, all Android device makers. Google petitioned the court to issue a declaratory judgment of non-infringement on seven Android-related patents held by the group.
Earlier that year, Microsoft was instead the target of a lawsuit from StrikeForce Technologies
. The Edison, N.J.-based company claimed that Microsoft and its PhoneFactor subsidiary violated patents that made its phone-based multifactor authentication technology possible.
Canon isn't the only big Japanese camera company to enter into a patent agreement with Microsoft.
In February 2013, Nikon joined a long list
of companies, including Samsung, HTC and Acer, in licensing patents related to the Android operating system. "Microsoft is proud to align with a leader in the digital camera industry to license Android technology for the benefit of Nikon's customers," said David Kaefer, Microsoft's general manager of Intellectual Property Licensing, in prepared remarks.
Round Rock, Texas-based PC and server maker Dell followed suit a year later
. On March 26, Microsoft announced that the companies "have agreed to license each company's applicable intellectual property related to Android and Chrome OS devices."
Since Microsoft kicked off its IP licensing program in December 2003, the company has sealed 1,100 such deals.