Canon inks deal for BlackBerry charger tech

Canon has reached a deal to license BlackBerry’s patented power-charging technology, which works with mobile devices and a range of consumer electronics.

IGT, a Nevada-based gaming- and lottery-system IT specialist formerly known as International Game Technology, will also get access to the technology, the companies announced.

The patent agreements were reached in November but not announced until Friday. Canon’s agreement covers BlackBerry charging technologies already in use in some Canon products.

The exact terms of each deal were not disclosed, but BlackBerry said in a statement that Canon was purchasing the license to the charging technology, while IGT will incorporate the technology in its products – chiefly gaming terminals like those in use in video casinos – and pay royalties to Canada-based BlackBerry Limited.

IGT – which has offices in New York City, Las Vegas and Rome, in addition to its Reno headquarters – specializes in the design, development, manufacturing and distribution of gaming machines, lottery systems, gambling-focused network systems and mobile gaming solutions.

Victor Duarte, IGT’s global chief product officer, said BlackBerry’s charging technology will give the gaming company’s video-gaming customers new ways to charge their mobile devices while still playing their games – a “great example of innovation based on customer feedback.”

Players will be able to plug their mobile devices directly into gaming machines to charge, increasing their playing time – a win for both the player and the machine owner.

“At IGT, enhanced ergonomics and player-focused amenities are integral to our cabinet-design strategy,” Duarte said in a statement. “The addition of convenient charging capability provides our customers with another feature that enables players to spend time enjoying their favorite games while conveniently charging a phone or mobile device.”

Canon did not release a statement regarding the BlackBerry agreement, though BlackBerry Limited said the deal with the maker of cameras, camcorders, photocopiers, computer printers, medical devices and other imaging devices shows the inherent strength of BlackBerry’s substantial IP portfolio, starting with the patented charging technology.

“Our agreement with Canon substantiates the value companies place on BlackBerry’s innovative and foundational power-charging patents for mobile and consumer electronic devices,” said Mark Kokes, BlackBerry Limited’s vice president of intellectual property and licensing. “With the agreement in place, Canon can continue to incorporate convenient charging solutions in its exciting new products.”

The patent agreements represent some much-needed good news for BlackBerry Limited, which has had a tough go in the increasingly competitive mobile-communications arena.

Chief executive John Chen, a former Walt Disney Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. director who was named BlackBerry executive board chairman and interim CEO in 2013, has made many difficult decisions to keep the company afloat, including laying off 200 BlackBerry workers in Canada and Florida. Those cuts were announced Feb. 6.

BlackBerry said in its release that it’s planning additional agreements with Canon. To date, the most popular collaboration between the two firms came in 2012, when Canon released a printing and scanning app for BlackBerry phones.