Unusually, I was contacted recently by the representatives of IPValue, an IP licensing company which wanted to talk about why such a company might be interested in display-related IP. I signed up and met online with Steve Shin and George Park from the firm.
The company specialises in helping, in its words’ innovators to get a return on their investments and ideas’. It has been doing this since 2001 and most of the business it has done (around $1.5 billion so far) has been in semiconductors. In August, my database showed me that it had extended its patent deal with Intel to add nearly five thousand patents to its portfolio. (some analysts have pointed out the irony that Intel was the firm that coined the phrase ‘patent troll’ and was now doing a deal with a firm that might be put into that category!) The deal brings the patents under IPValue’s control to around 14,000 with memory heavily represented.
Shin joined the company in 2008 and is the firm’s IP counsel. He explained that what has made the firm’s work in the IP space for display has been the availability of some of the IP from early developers of LCD displays, in particular, the firm is working with Seiko Epson, Sanyo and Mitsubishi Electric from Japan. (we covered the Mitsubishi deal – for 1200 patents – back in the summer of 2021 IPValue Management Affiliate Acquires Rights to Mitsubishi Electric’s Display Business Patent Portfolio)
As Shin said, it is often when companies get out of volume manufacturing themselves, it makes sense to start looking at making the most of the IP assets that they have. IPValue believes that it has established a reputation with its customers and partners for fair dealing and that can help when it comes to discussing licensing and appropriate terms.
However, often the firms find that they are not really equipped to make the most of the assets they have. Researching and developing technology is not the same as understanding how to licence it. Hence, they turn to companies like IPValue. At the moment, although OLED is a hot display market topic, the opportunities for licensing firms is less as companies look to exploit their IP in house. The same is broadly true in MicroLED at the moment.
The three firms mentioned have developed solid IP portfolios with high quality patents and that is attractive to licensors. However, to make the most of the IP takes a fair amount of effort including very detailed and deep technology knowledge and understanding as well as practical facilities to undertake high quality reverse engineering and teardowns to find out if and where IP is being used. In the case of LCDs, it can be in the pixel design detail or in the active backplanes.
Sadly, it is rare that companies that license patents want to talk about it, so ‘hard news’ is not often released saying who has paid up. (BR)