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OM Digital Solutions splits from Olympus

OM Digital Solutions, the new name for Olympus’ Imaging business following the acquisition by a private equity firm in 2020, will no longer carry any direct affiliation with the Olympus brand name.

The OM-5 is the second major camera release by OM Digital Solutions, and the first to not include any Olympus branding.

Japan Industrial Partners Inc (JIP) acquisition deal of the Olympus Imaging division didn’t apparently include a licence to the Olympus brand name and the, ahem, ‘solution’ was to create OM Digital Solutions.

At the time of the deal, Olympus stated that JIP could only use its brand name ‘for a certain period’, or ‘the foreseeable future‘. With no end date provided, or clarity on for long the foreseeable future may last, it appears we’ve finally arrived beyond the foreseeable future.

A translated Japanese OM Digital Solutions press release, tracked down by DPReview, states that all Olympus-branded imaging products – including lenses, binoculars, accessories and IC recorders – will branded as ‘OM System’. This development was speculated following the release of the OM-5, the first camera to include no Olympus branding.

The new brand name is clunky. We’ve spent more time than it’s worth determining whether the brand should be called OM Digital Solutions or OM D Solutions, and abbreviated to OM D S, or simply OM D. We still haven’t arrived at a conclusion. And should cameras follow the standard naming style – the brand followed by model – resulting in a hideous label, such as the OM D S OM-5?

Now there is OM D’s line of OM System (OM S?) lenses.

While this alphabet salad of O’s and M’s isn’t ideal, from a brand recognition point of view it makes sense. In the 1970s Olympus launched the OM SLR camera, and in the digital age its leading line of mirrorless camera was the OM-D.  It creates a logical lineage between Olympus and JIP’s new company, which seems like a better strategy than starting an entire new brand using the acquired Olympus product design.

Here’s an explainer by the OM Digital Solutions CEO, Shigemi Sugimoto:

‘The letters “OM” in the company name, embody the posture of always challenging difficult situations, and developing new products and technologies,’ states Sugimoto. ‘In the current day, “OM” has been reborn as “OM-D”, and it is leading our imaging brand as the prominent mirrorless camera. Next, “Digital Solutions” incorporates our corporate posture and determination towards the future of challenging the digital domain; both the carefully cultivated imaging-related business, and expanding boundaries beyond.’

This officially ends the Olympus brand name’s relationship with consumer photography, a legacy that began in the 1930s, but in more recent years became a loss maker.

However, the Olympus brand remains alive. Following the sale of imagine, the company is now entirely geared toward the medical and scientific industry, manufacturing products like microscopes and endoscopy systems.

For a backgrounder on the acquisition, here is an excerpt of our coverage:

It’s a two-stage deal. First Olympus will transfer the Imaging business to ‘a newly established wholly-owned subsidiary of Olympus called ‘New Imaging Company’ through something called an ‘absorption-type split.’

Then on  January 1 next year, 95 percent of shares of  New Imaging Company will go to OJ Holdings – a special purpose company established by JIP. It will then be called OM Digital Solutions. Products will carry the Olympus brand ‘for the foreseeable future’ (which would indicate ownership of the brand remains with Olympus Corporation).
An ‘absorption-type split’ followed by a share transfer is one of several methods permitted in Japanese company law to acquire a company. A company split has an advantage over a straight business transfer in that: ‘all the assets, liabilities, contracts and employees that constitute a business are transferred to the buyer by operation of law without the need for consents of creditors or other contract counterparties,’ according to legal website, Practical Law.

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