Seven patent licensors labelled as threat

April 04, 2017 // By Peter Clarke
Patent and technical analysis firm KnowMade Co. (Sophia Antipolis, France) has prepared a report that covers seven patent licensing companies (PLCs) that it asserts pose a threat to companies working in the semiconductor market.

The seven companies are WiLAN, Acacia Research, Conversant IP Management (formerly known as Mosaid), Intellectual Ventures, Rambus, Round Rock Research and Tessera. The list is based on an evaluation by KnowMade of patent acquisition activity and litigation behavior since 2013.

The semiconductor industry has the attributes that appeal to patent licensing companies (PLCs), according to KnowMade and the firm expects PLCs will seek to extract increasing amounts of money from the semiconductor industry. KnowMade references a report by RPX Corp. from March 2015 in stating that "NPEs cost operating companies an estimated $12.2 billion in both legal fees and other legal costs and settlement or judgment amounts in 2014."

"WiLAN is probably the major threat to semiconductor companies," said Nicolas Baron, CEO and co-founder of KnowMade. During 2015 WiLAN acquired patents from several semiconductor companies including Infineon Technologies, Qimonda and Freescale. Several months later WiLAN filed law suits based on these patents through Polaris Innovation and North Star Innovations, two wholly owned subsidiaries of WiLAN.

Aggressiveness of patent licensing companies in the semiconductor field. Source: KnowMade.

KnowMade's patent litigation risk analysis argues that WiLAN will continue with an aggressive strategy and has such companies as Apple, Hewlett Packard, Micron, Amkor Technology, Cypress, Nanya and others in its sights. Acacia Research has fewer semiconductor patents than WiLAN but the company files the highest number of patent litigation campaigns with a relatively high number of defendants.

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