With an aim to strengthen their alliance and further their collaboration on research and development, Microsoft and Canon yesterday announced that they have shaken hands on a patent cross-licensing agreement, which will give the companies access to each other's patent portfolios.

"This collaborative approach with Canon allows us to deliver inventive technologies that benefit consumers around the world", said Microsoft's intellectual property manager Nick Psyhogeosin in a statement.

Although the terms of the deal as well as the type of patents being shared remain undisclosed, the companies did say that the agreement covers a broad range of products and services including certain digital imaging and mobile consumer products.

Both Microsoft and Canon have some of the largest patent portfolios in the world, with the former filing 2,000 patents and the latter filing 3000 patents in 2012 alone.

The Redmond-based company, which has inked more than 1,100 licensing agreements since it launched its IP licensing program back in 2003, believes cooperative licensing is an effective way to speed up innovation while reducing patent disputes.

Patent cross-licensing is not a new phenomenon. Several tech giants including Apple, Samsung, Google, Cisco, Ericsson, and more, over the years have entered into similar agreements with colleagues as well as competitors.

Back in January, Twitter entered into a cross-licensing agreement with IBM. Late last year, Apple also inked a similar deal with Android smartphone maker HTC to settle a patent dispute.