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No sueballs needed: Microsoft and Canon buddy up on patent deal

Redmond adds yet another name to its litany of IP pacts

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Microsoft has hammered out a patent-sharing deal with camera biz Canon.

The two companies have agreed to cross-license their protected technologies, which cover stuff from digital photo products to mobile gear. No specific products, patents or platforms were named, however.

Microsoft and Canon have signed other patent deals in the past, including one in which Redmond allowed Canon and several other mobile device and peripheral vendors to use its exFAT file system.

"This collaborative approach with Canon allows us to deliver inventive technologies that benefit consumers around the world," said Nick Psyhogeos, general manager and associate general counsel for Microsoft's intellectual property group on today's deal.

"Microsoft believes cooperative licensing is an effective way to accelerate innovation while reducing patent disputes."

Such patent licensing pacts have become Redmond's preferred method for handling intellectual property brouhahas. Rather than take rival firms to court over claims of infringement, Microsoft has by and large opted instead to negotiate deals that allow itself and other vendors access to patents without fear of legal action.

Among the firms who have agreed to patent deals with Microsoft are Samsung, Motorola Solutions, and Foxconn. The approach has paid off for Microsoft in that it has kept the firm away from the costly and tedious legal battles that have plagued Apple and other IT giants.

It has also brought a financial windfall to the company as the boom in Android sales has yielded a healthy flow of royalty payments, thanks to this tech licensing. As far back as 2011 the Windows maker was said to be hauling in hundreds of millions of dollars every year from licensing deals.

While Redmond no doubt appreciates the influx of revenue, the situation is a mixed blessing for the company as the Android devices it collects on have largely been credited with driving down Surface tablet sales, and have all but muscled its Windows Phone platform out of the upper echelons of the mobile market. ®

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