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Kodak, Olympus announce alliance!
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, February 13, 2001 - 13:10 EST)

Imaging giants Kodak and Olympus announce an alliance to cross-license digital camera technologies...

Kodak and Olympus have jointly distributed a press release today (see below) announcing an agreement to cross-license their digital camera technologies. According to the release, both companies have more than a thousand patents relating to digital cameras and periphery technologies... No specific informaton is given as to which of the technologies the companies intend to license to each other, nor what they intend to use the technologies for. We intend to swing by their respective booths later today and see if we can get some specific information, but in the meantime have been speculating as to what the two companies may have planned.

Kodak has quite a range of sensor technologies, both on the high end with sophisticated CCD sensors designed for Pro cameras, and on the opposite end of the spectrum with low-cost CMOS sensors. The company also has its Print@Kodak Internet photofinishing service. Olympus meanwhile has not allied itself with any online photofinisher to date, so we'd speculate that one possible outcome of the agreement could be that Olympus would start to promote Print@Kodak with its consumer cameras, and in return gain access to some of Kodak's CMOS sensors for use in entry-level digital cameras (the low end is seen as quite important to the marketplace as cost is a factor preventing many consumers from making the move to digital - a capable but low-cost digicam could conceivably sell like hotcakes).

Another rumor we've been hearing (and we must note here that the company denied this in our discussions with them) is that Olympus is planning an entry into the Pro SLR digicam market, competing with the likes of Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Kodak themselves. If this rumor has any foundation in fact, it might make sense for Olympus to seek out Kodak's high-end sensor technologies for such a project.

We'll do our best to find some more specifics on this news for readers, but in the meantime bear in mind that we can only speculate - it will be a while before the real implications of the agreement come to light.

Source: Yahoo! Finance / PR Newswire

Original Source Press Release:

Kodak and Olympus Join Forces to Drive Digital Photography Growth Olympus and Kodak Agree on Cross Licensing Digital Camera Technologies

ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Eastman Kodak Company and Olympus Optical Company, Ltd. today announced a cross licensing agreement designed to expand the market for digital photography. The agreement includes the mutual cross licensing of patented digital camera technologies. Financial terms of the cross-licensing agreement have not been disclosed.

In addition, both parties have agreed to work together to promote improved digital printing of images so that consumers will be able to find better ways of storing and printing pictures. This service is expected to utilize Kodak Internet capabilities, including the Print@Kodak Internet photofinishing service and Kodak PhotoNet Online.

Kodak owns a portfolio of more than one thousand patents relating to digital cameras and digital photography systems, including megapixel camera architectures, fundamental and advanced image processing algorithms, CCD and CMOS image sensors, and convergence devices-such as digital camera / printer devices, digital camera / PDA devices, and digital camera / cell phone devices.

``Olympus also owns a patent portfolio of more than one thousand patents. This agreement gives Kodak and Olympus the ability to develop better technologies and products, which will encourage more people to try new ways of taking and sharing their photographs,'' said Yusuke Kojima, General Manager, Digital Imaging Division, Olympus Optical Co. Ltd.

Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. is one of the leading manufacturers of digital cameras, and will be broadening the consumer digital camera market using high-resolution CCDs. Kodak and Olympus are working together to define and develop these high-resolution CCDs, which Kodak will manufacture and Olympus intends to purchase.

``The experience and patent portfolio that Olympus holds in the area of digital camera components, optics and printers will make the collaboration between Kodak and Olympus even greater. This will benefit consumers long term and will help drive industry growth,'' said Kojima

Kodak has initiated a broad digital camera patent licensing program and is committed to making its patented technologies available to the marketplace. Kodak is currently in negotiations with other digital camera manufacturers.

``We look forward to working with Olympus, to evangelize the ease and fun of digital technologies to consumers,'' said Willy Shih, president, Digital & Applied Imaging and senior vice president, Eastman Kodak Company. ``Kodak has made substantial investments in the development of digital cameras, image sensors and online photo services for almost twenty-five years, and by licensing the fruits of these investments, we can work with the industry worldwide to deliver better products and services to market.''

Kodak and Olympus have each pioneered the development of digital camera technology since the mid-1970s, and are recognized throughout the industry as leaders in digital imaging technology. Kodak developed the first working digital camera prototype, and the first single-sensor color imager, nearly 25 years ago. Olympus launched an 810,000 pixel CCD digital camera in 1996, which captured consumers' attention to the promise of high-quality digital imaging. More recently, Olympus developed the first 4 megapixel camera for the consumer and pro-sumer markets.

About Eastman Kodak Company

Eastman Kodak Company is the leader in photography -- traditional, digital and online -- with sales of nearly $14 billion for 2000. Committed to making digital photography easy and accessible, Kodak is a leading supplier of digital cameras and inkjet media.

Kodak also provides a range of consumer digital services, which make it easy for consumers to experience the benefits of digital photography while using traditional film cameras. The Kodak Picture Center Online at CVS.com, Kodak Picture CD, Kodak PhotoNet online, ``You've Got Pictures'' in cooperation with America Online, and Kodak Picture Disk are available through participating retailers. These services, along with the Print@Kodak Internet photofinishing service and kodak.com, make Kodak a leader in this emerging new field.

About Olympus Optical Co., Ltd.

Since 1919, Olympus -- the world leader in film and filmless photography -- has been committed to pushing the boundaries and designing useful products that are not only high performance, but also solution-based. Olympus technologies include optical, precision, medical and information, but all conform to the core Olympus philosophy: ``focus on life.''

Olympus is at the forefront of the photographic revolution with groundbreaking products developed through a fusion of optical and advanced digital technologies. Olympus continually strives for innovation and has recently created a new category of digital cameras, which address both the professional photographer and the consumer's demand for high technology and convenience.

Editor's Note: For more information about Kodak products and services, please visit the company's web site at http://www.kodak.com.

Kodak and Print@Kodak are trademarks of Eastman Kodak Company.

PhotoNet is a trademark of PictureVision, Inc.

"You've Got Pictures" is a service mark of America Online, Inc.

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