Nikon to pay Honeywell to settle patent row

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The Independent Online
TOKYO (Reuter) - Nikon, the Japanese camera company, has agreed to pay Honeywell of the United States an undisclosed amount as settlement for alleged patent breaches of auto-focus technology.

Nikon will also pay royalty fees for use of the patent. It will raise funds for the payment via the sale of fixed assets and securities.

According to a Jiji Press report, Nikon, which has contracted with Honeywell to have access to its auto-focus patent until 1995, will pay Honeywell damages totalling dollars 45m ( pounds 23.3m) to settle the claim. Nikon's rival, Minolta, paid Honeywell dollars 127.5m ( pounds 66m) to settle similar claims.

Nikon said the settlement was not an admission of guilt. 'Our payment to Honeywell is simply a settlement to end a dispute. It doesn't mean we've admitted violating Honeywell's patents,' Shigeo Ono, senior managing director, told a news conference.

In return for the payment, Honeywell will withdraw the suit it filed against Nikon in March in a US court. 'We're not very satisfied with (the payments), since they are more than we had originally expected,' Mr Ono said.

A Nikon spokesman said the settlement was not expected to damage earnings in the current period. Nikon forecast a Y2bn ( pounds 8m) pre-tax profit on revenue of Y270bn ( pounds 1.1bn) in the year to March 1993. However, industry analysts were not so optimistic. 'The payments will certainly have an impact on Nikon's profitability. It's a company that's already suffering from slumping demand and strong competition,' one stockbroker's analyst said.