In late August, a Viltrox representative informed a potential customer that Canon told them to cease producing RF-mount products. While Canon initially declined to comment on the matter, they now say that this was done to avoid violating their patents.
A Viltrox representative later confirmed to PetaPixel that it had stopped selling all RF-mount products because it was not authorized to do so by Canon. Canon had yet to comment on this issue, even though it was silent last week.
But in a statement to Photografix Magazine over the weekend, Canon Germany confirmed the reports that it issued a cease and desist order to third-party lens manufacturers for violating its patents:
“SHENZHEN JUEYING TECHNOLOGY CO.LTD, manufactures auto focus lenses for Canon RF mount under the brand name “Viltrox”. Canon believes that these products infringe their patent and design rights and has therefore requested the company to stop all activities that infringe Canon’s intellectual property rights.”
Canon USA today affirmed this statement in an email to PetaPixel.
It should be noted, though the statement is in direct Japan, that Canon specifically mentioned autofocus lenses. However, Viltrox and others may have stopped making lenses for the RF mounting — either with electronic or mechanical — due to an excess of caution.
Viltrox and any other company that produced an autofocus-capable RF lens did so through reverse engineering, since PetaPixel is aware that Canon does not currently license its RF mount to any third-party manufacturers. It makes sense for the company to object to any third-party manufacturers that use its autofocus technology and electronics technology.
Sony has been licensing its E-mount for some time and it appears that Nikon is doing the same with its Z-mount, considering Tamron is about to produce a new 70-300mm f/4.5-6. 3 lens that will be released at the end of September (although this is unconfirmed at the time of publication). This would indicate that Canon is the sole major manufacturer of camera lenses that prohibits third-party manufacturers from making optics for their camera systems. Users are locked into first-party lenses if this is true. It makes perfect sense from a sales standpoint, however, Canon users who are forced to buy lenses more expensively will be less happy.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.