Nikon signs patent deal with Microsoft for Android-based cameras

Nikon signs patent deal with Microsoft for Android-based cameras

Summary: Microsoft has convinced another device maker using Android as an embedded OS to pay it patent royalties.


Microsoft has signed patent-protection deals with a number of PC and tablet makers in the past couple of years. Now it's also forging similar deals with more companies embeddeding the Android operating system inside consumer devices.


Microsoft announced on February 21 that it has signed a patent-licensing agreement with Nikon. The agreement "provides broad coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio for certain Nikon cameras running the Android platform," according to Microsoft's press release.

Microsoft and Nikon have agreed not to disclose specifics, but Microsoft is acknowledging that it will receive undisclosed royalties from Nikon as part of the deal. Like Microsoft's other Android, Linux and Chrome OS patent deals, exactly which Microsoft-patented technologies the vendors are licensing is unknown.

At least some, if not all, of Nikon's Coolpix cameras are using Android inside.

This isn't the first embedded vendor with which Microsoft has signed an Android patent deal. In December 2012, Microsoft announced an Android patent deal with Hoeft & Wessel AG, a German manufacturer of devices and terminals for the public transportation, logistics and retail industries that use Android as their embedded operating system. It also signed a patent-licensing agreement with TomTom, a GPS maker, as part of a patent-infringement settlement.

Previously, Microsoft signed patent-licensing deals with a number of key OEMs and ODMs (original design manufacturers) using Linux, Android and Chrome OS, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Buffalo, Compal, General Dynamics, HTC, LG Electronics, Pegatron, Samsung, and Velocity Micro, among others.

News of Microsoft's latest Android patent deal comes the same day that Microsoft and Oracle met with lawmakers in Washington to defend software patents. The pair are proposing losers in software patent suits pay the winners' legal costs as a way to try to discourage dubious patent suits.

Microsoft also is promising the company will publish on the web as of April 1 information that enables anyone to determine which patents Microsoft owns.

Topics: Patents, Android, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think something went a little off here ?

    Previously, Microsoft has been targeting Microsoft has signed patent-licensing deals with a number of ..
    Youssef Samir
  • Thanks

    In process of fixing the typo. MJ
    Mary Jo Foley
    • You're welcome

      I just corrected the great MJ :P
      Haha, not butt-kissing or anything, just appreciate your views and work :)
      Youssef Samir
  • Nikon signs patent deal with Microsoft for Android-based cameras

    Microsoft is making more money off of android than Google or linux ever could. Like I said before whatever the patent is Microsoft knows that linux is infringing on it. You can't get this many companies to sign without something being up.
    • Another insightful comment

      More false "facts" from the slavish Lovey.
      His whole self-image is tied to Microsoft.

      Pretty sad, really.
      • The fact is that Microsoft is making more money than Google

        off Google's operating system. There is nothing false about it. Pretty much every single OEM has signed a patent licensing agreement with Microsoft for Android devices. Google released Android for free and don't make money from the OS itself. So it would be pretty hard to see Microsoft use that in court against Google. The manufacturers, on the other hand, are using the OS to sell their devices.

        Google should have done what Microsoft did with Apple - cross license patents so their manufacturers don't get sued. You can keep singing prayers for Google, but they have not done any favors to any manufacturers. Android is not FREE. You still have to pay royalty fees for patents that other companies hold. Just by purchasing Motorola has given jackshit protection to all the manufacturers. They are still signing royalty agreements with either Microsoft or Apple, in some cases both.
        Kunal Nanda
        • Google does make devices that run Android and never signed a deal.

          They made the Nexus line of phones and they made the Pixel which is Chrome, not Android but it as also built on top of Linux as Android is. Why is Microsoft letting them slide?
          Tim Jordan
          • Why is Microsoft letting them slide?

            Because microsoft is a bully and only goes after the smaller guys.
          • Errr....

            Read your comments. Nobody would belive you. Microsoft bullying "smaller" companies? Samsung is small? B&N are small? Nikon? Don't make me laugh.
          • Microsoft bullying "smaller" companies?

            Yes, they do, B&N is smaller, Nikon and Samsung I'm not 100% on, but Samsung does make windows PC's, and I'm sure they would want to keep their windows rebates (something they might lose if they decided to fight microsoft) but just take a look at all the other companies microsoft have bullied.

            And ask yourself this, why doesn't microsoft go after the company that actually created Android? maybe because they know Google has plenty of $$$ and they won't lay over.
          • Technically, Android is Open Source

            meaning that it's just out there. Google sells the Nexus, so who knows if Google signed the agreement or not. Might be one of those little details that both kept it secret to protect Google.

            On the other hand, Samsung isn't any small local PC Shop. We are talking billions upon billions of $$ is sales annually. Lets just say that if MS claims were garbage, Samsung could fight and win, without much problem.

            It seems that Nikon, Samsung and the others know they are legally required to pay, or redesign Android to avoid the patents.

            Google did their standard arrogance. Build it without regard to other's IP and give it away. Leave the vendors hung out to dry, so MS can make a boatload.

            Have fun in lala land. I'm sure the locals are happy to have you there.
    • You can't get this many companies to sign....

      without the threat of a $$$ court case against a bigger company.

      There, I fixed it for you.
  • Microsoft is a blight on the computer industry

    And has been for some time. I would not be surprised in the slightest that within a few years most of their income will come from patent trolling.
    • Ok....

      So you work at a large company and developed something unique in the industry. Then along comes a company that takes your invention and uses it without paying for your work. What would you do?
      Try not to be biased and/or anti-Microsoft.
  • It's funny...

    Some participants in this forum are cheering when Microsoft is taking advantage of patents, but if certain other companies get advantages of patents, it's "destructive to the industry" or whatever. You just can't make this stuff up.
    • Umm.

      The difference is the patents. Bill Gates got screwed in the very early days of MS, and had learned the value of intellectual property the hard way. There is a reason patent lawyers are the highest paid. Microsoft has good, well written patents, for technologies they truly innovated and pioneered, or purchased and further developed. Apple, tries to patent round corners, and "look and feel", and other abstract nonsense. Big difference.
      • Wow. Rewrite history much?

        • And that is the best

          Counter-argument you could come up with.
          Kunal Nanda
          • .

            sometimes the shortest statements make the biggest impact. 'nuff said
          • Alas, not in this case