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Kodak's logo. Click here to visit the Kodak website! Kodak, Sanyo sign patent cross-licensing agreement!
(Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 12:12 EDT)

Lawsuit against Sanyo and its customers dropped; Kodak photofinishing gets a boost...

We told you back on March 1st that Eastman Kodak Co. had filed suit in the US District Courts against Sanyo Electric Co., Seiko-Epson Corp. and Agfa-Gevaert N.V. claiming that the three companies were infringing on its patents. Today, Kodak and Sanyo have announced an agreement to cross license their patented digital camera technologies. Under the terms of the deal, Sanyo will receive a license to more than 1,000 Kodak patents, and Kodak has withdrawn the patent infringement suit filed against Sanyo and its customer companies.

In return, Kodak gets precisely what we predicted in our earlier news item - the company has successfully used its patent portfolio to persuade Sanyo and its customers to offer its online photofinishing services with their products. Sanyo-manufactured digital cameras will now come with an offer to upload to Kodak Internet services Print@Kodak and Kodak PhotoNet Online. Kodak will also gain access to Sanyo's digital camera-related patent portfolio (we'd note that the company's press release several times mentions Organic Light Emitting Diode display technology, which is significant).

Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. Kodak notes that it is in discussions with a number of digital camera manufacturers, and we'd not be at all surprised to see other announcements similar to this one in the near future.

Kodak notes that through such deals it is "encouraging the common use of standards that ultimately will benefit consumers by helping to deliver the best digital and photo technologies to the marketplace, resulting in easier-to-use, higher-quality devices and services." By placing itself in a position to be visible not just to existing Kodak customers, but to customers of other manufacturers as well, Kodak also stands to benefit greatly. In making it easier for digital camera owners to be aware of and access its online photofinishing services, the company seems to be attempting to replicate the strong position it has currently in the film photofinishing market - ensuring that when a digital photo gets printed, it gets printed on Kodak paper.

Original Source Press Release:

Kodak and SANYO Cross License Digital Camera Technologies

ROCHESTER, N.Y., April 26-Eastman Kodak Company and SANYO Electric Co., Ltd. today announced a mutual agreement to cross license patents that is designed to expand the market for digital photography.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sanyo receives a license to Kodak's patented digital camera technologies. Kodak withdrew a patent infringement suit recently filed against Sanyo and several of Sanyo's customers. Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

"To cultivate our Digital Camera division, SANYO Electric has developed and patented many key technologies. SANYO holds more than a thousand worldwide patents covering a broad range of technologies, including semiconductors, for example, for Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) and low-temperature polysilicon displays, as well as image processing technologies such as image compression, auto focus, and color processing, and battery related technologies," said Hiroshi Ono, General Manager of SANYO's Multimedia company Video Imaging Systems division.

Kodak and Sanyo will join forces to take advantage of the significant growth opportunities created by the convergence of traditional and digital imaging devices, infrastructure and media/services. The companies have agreed to work together to simplify and promote online, digital printing of images so that customers can obtain high-quality prints. Online digital printing will be enabled using Kodak infrastructure and services, including the Print@Kodak Internet photofinishing service and Kodak PhotoNet Online.

"As a manufacturer of digital cameras, SANYO has been a long time industry leader and is dedicated to further spreading the use of digital imaging on a global scale, capitalizing on the emerging online services that play an important role in expanding the use of the digital camera," added Hiroshi Ono.

"Kodak and SANYO have a special technology collaboration relationship in developing and commercializing OLED flat-panel display technology," said Willy Shih, president, Digital & Applied Imaging and senior vice president, Eastman Kodak Company.

"Cross-licensing our digital camera patent portfolios will enable Kodak and SANYO to deliver better imaging products and services to consumers and businesses worldwide. We look forward to expanding our relationship with SANYO in the areas of digital cameras and Internet storage and printing of digital images."

Kodak has initiated digital camera and Internet photo system patent licensing programs designed to make its patented technologies available to the marketplace.

Underscoring its leadership in imaging devices, Kodak owns a portfolio of more than one thousand patents relating to digital cameras and digital photography systems. These patents include 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. Kodak was issued its first patents on digital cameras and single sensor color imagers nearly 25 years ago.


SANYO is a global leader in multimedia & mobile communications. The company's businesses cover a broad range of multimedia & information system, home appliances, commercial equipment, electronic devices, batteries and other products. SANYO'S net sales in fiscal year 2000, concluded in March 31, 2000, amounted to 1,940,378 million yen (US$18 billion). The SANYO group is truly an international organization, consisting of 149 affiliates employing over 110,000 persons globally. (URL http://www.sanyo.com)

Kodak and infoimaging

Eastman Kodak Company is the leader in photography-traditional, digital and online-with sales of nearly $14 billion for 2000. The cross licensing agreement with SANYO will help drive the growth of key infoimaging categories: devices and infrastructure. Infoimaging is a $225 billion industry created by the accelerated convergence of image science and information technology. Infoimaging unites three image-centric markets - devices, infrastructure and services and media-enabling consumers and businesses to more easily use images as a fast and effective way to communicate. Infoimaging presents significant new revenue opportunities for any company that delivers value through the marriage of information and images.

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