Microsoft and Canon Sign Cross-Licensing Agreement on Patents

Microsoft and Canon Sign Cross-Licensing Agreement on Patents

Yesterday, Canon and Microsoft agreed to terms on a cross-licensing agreement on each of their highly valued patent portfolios. This now means that Canon and Microsoft are able to use each others patents easily, allowing innovation and new products between the two of them to be released much quicker than before, but what does this mean for the photography community?

With over 5,000 patents issued last year alone between the two of them, this marks one of the largest patent agreements in history. With both Microsoft and Canon ranked among the top of their respected industries according to IEEE Spectrum's Patent Power 2013, this could call for some massive changes in the photography community. Microsoft's intellectual property manager Nick Psyhogeosin stated --

This collaborative approach with Canon allows us to deliver inventive technologies that benefit consumers around the world. [...] Microsoft believes cooperative licensing is an effective way to accelerate innovation while reducing patent disputes.

The purpose of this agreement is still unsure, but looks to be likely related to Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia back in April. With Nokia making a huge push to create large sensor cameras in their phones, it makes sense to license Canon's patents, being that they're the world leader in imaging technology. This could help bring Windows phones to the forefront, stealing some of the photographer market from Apple and Android. However, with Android's announcement of RAW support last week, they show that they're not going down without a fight. 

For a full look into the press release, click here.

[via Microsoft]


Zach Sutton's picture

Zach Sutton is an award-winning and internationally published commercial and headshot photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA. His work highlights environmental portraiture, blending landscapes and scenes with portrait photography. Zach writes for various publications on the topic of photography and retouching.

Log in or register to post comments

Interesting. I wonder what Canon will end up doing with this new deal.

I think that is the big question.

It's pretty obvious that Microsoft wants to to help develop new Nokia phones faster, and will want to use Canon patients for screens, sensors, lenses and more. But what does Canon want from Microsoft?

Maybe Canon will develop imaging hardware for Nokia.

Well Zach. Canon realizes that it's in a sort of precarious situation right now.
They aren't doing as well with the camera market right now, and they can see a bigger threat that is looming on them in the future.

With Android's support for DNG, a lot of things have been changed.

Do you remember the Sony DscX10 and Dscx100?
The two lenses that connect up with your mobile phone, and have their own 18 MP sensors in them. When they were released, there was a lot of excitement, because the lenses themselves were pretty good, had a very decent focal range and also had a surprisingly wide aperture. (All things considered)
The only gripe a lot of photographers had over the two lenses, was the fact that you could only shoot JPEG. There was no support for RAW files. ;)
Do you see where I'm coming at here?
While Sony might have consciously taken that decision, because android and iOS systems obviously didn't support RAW, they aren't bound by the same laws anymore.

Right now, if Sony releases another few set of lenses that cover a similarly wide focal length, with decent f-stop numbers; people could take photos in RAW, which can be directly processed in their tablets. Tablets have a big screen, so the Live View is going to be infinitely better. With the use of new apps, like an update to photoshop, or even using Lightroom for Mobile, you could do some pretty decent edits from your Tablet itself.
Tablets are obviously going to become faster and better over the next year, so you'll probably be able to do some pretty decent edits from the gadgets themselves. These post-processed pictures can then be uploaded wherever needed.

For any amateur user, why would they even consider buying a DSLR/Mirrorless system, when they have an all-in-one Capturing, processing, and networking system already with them? It would be much cheaper, and honestly more convenient. Canon would lose an entire market, just like that. Whats worse is that eventually, these lenses might even support fullf rame sensors in the next 3-4 years.

They can't start doing stuff for Android and iOS, because Sony was there first and it will make them look bad.
Also, Sony has pretty much cornered this market already.
The only option they have left is Microsoft, probably tying up to the next series of Surface tablets.
Probably with the promise of it being more powerful, and all ready having support from desktop software.
Now imagine the same scenario as above, but with Photoshop & Lightroom CC, which are already supported and
are infinitely more powerful than their mobile counterparts.

They can't rely on their brand name alone anymore, they have to innovate, in some way of the other.

Please fix this article. In many places, the word "patent" has been substituted with the word "patient". Other than that, thanks for informing of the patent merger. I wasn't aware.

Woah, fixed. Sorry about that. Doing too many things at once when I was writing this up apparently.

What does Canon get with the deal? Software of course! =)

Cool. I hope the innovative technologies include IS on standard zoom lenses. (Sarcasm)

It's kind of funny this happened. Canon and Microsoft are paired together in my mind as the same "types". That type has always been, "We provide something that works well, but would love to convince you all ours is the ONLY one that works well."

Wow, 5000 patents last year, thats pretty insane. Can't wait to see what comes of this cross-licence agreement.