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SMART Technologies acquires NextWindow

Paddy Baker 4 May 2010
SMART Technologies acquires NextWindow

The deal follows a well-publicised patent-licensing dispute between the two companies, writes David Davies. While Canada-based SMART Technologies is a driving force in the booming interactive whiteboard market, New Zealand’s NextWindow designs and manufactures optical touch technology for integration into all-in-one computers, computer displays and large-format screens.

According to SMART, the acquisition – which is expected to result in "minimal impact" on both parties’ day-to-day operations, offices and company structure – will reinforce its own investment in optical touch R&D and extend its presence into the broader consumer market.

Nancy Knowlton (pictured), SMART’s CEO, told IE: "We have reached a size and scale where this acquisition can be easily handled. The focus of NextWindow is complementary to what we do and we will be able to accelerate our optical touch technology development efforts with the product development efforts of the two teams."

The deal – which brings together the two companies’ optical touch patent portfolios – also represents a definitive full stop to a long-running dispute between SMART and NextWindow. The controversy revolved around a suit filed by SMART in April 2009, which alleged that NextWindow had violated several of its Digital Vision Touch technology patents.

Knowlton confirmed to IE that "we have resolved our patent dispute with the court case between the parties in the United States being dismissed". Moving forward, the R&D focus will be on continuing "to develop the optical touch technology with a focus on improving performance, miniaturisation and cost reduction".

Providing a NextWindow perspective, that company’s CEO, Al Monro, commented: "We are combining two companies with complementary expertise and a remarkably similar culture focused on innovation and excellence. NextWindow’s development of optical touch technology complements SMART’s efforts, and I’m delighted that we are becoming part of SMART."

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