Sharp and E-ink announced today that they've agreed to cross-license each others patents.The specific terms of the deal haven't been disclosed, but it reportedly includes the patents and tech that were developed by Hydis, the E-ink which developed the high quality, high resolution screen used in the Nook Color, Galaxy Tab, and others. (The tablet on the right has a Hydis screen.)
The deal is going to last 10 years, and it includes an agreement to not sue each other (always a plus). This looks to mainly focus on use TFT and LCD related screen tech, so the quip i made about about E-ink's EPD based E-ink screen is just that, a quip. Even so, this deal will give E-ink access to a lot of cutting edge tech, including the screen that went into the new iPad as well as the screen tech that is rumored to be going into the iPad Mini.
E-ink is currently dominating the market for supplying epaper screens for ereaders, but I'm beginning think that they don't expect it to last. This deal suggests that E-ink might be planning for a possible future where tablets more fully supplant ereaders.
Update: Display Daily has also posted on this story, and they describe the deal as being more of a one-way license - the other way.
However, the major motivation for the agreement is to allow Sharp to use FFS technology in the panels it will be making for Apple iPads, and perhaps iPhones and iTVs. This is essential for Sharp because the panels for the iPhone and iPad made by LG Display and Samsung Display use FFS under license (although each refuses to acknowledge that, and Apple has gone along with the charade).
They're probably right.