Semiconductor Value Chain

Panasonic Ships Chip Patents out to IP Licensor

16 December 2013

Panasonic Corp. is assigning 900 semiconductor patents and applications to Collabo Innovations Inc., a newly-formed subsidiary of Wi-LAN Inc. (Ottawa, Canada).

The patents come from Panasonic Automotive & Industrial Systems Co., one of Panasonic's internal companies, but said to have applicability to a wide range of products including CMOS image sensors, microcontrollers and semiconductor used in optical drives.

The move is part of moves by Panasonic to get out of the semiconductor business while at the same time getting some return on its intellectual property. The company reportedly has plans to sell three Japanese wafers fabs to Israel foundry Tower Semiconductor Ltd. (Migdal Haemek, Israel). Panasonic is also reportedly in talks to sell chip assembly plants it owns in China, Indonesia and Malaysia to a Singaporean company thought to be Stats ChipPac Ltd.

"Panasonic Corporation has over 140,000 patents worldwide and has stated a clear intention to improve the monetization and management of their intellectual property assets," said Shoji Matsumoto, associate vice president of strategic alliances at Panasonic, in a statement issued by Wi-Lan.

Wi-LAN, founded in 1992, started out as a developer of wideband orthogonal frequency domain multiplex (OFDM) technology but has evolved into a intellectual property licensing and technology development company. Wi-LAN has acquired patents that it licenses out and works with partner companies to license their patent portfolios. Wi-LAN has licensed its intellectual property to over 275 companies worldwide and has strong relations with Panasonic through its dealings licensing IP to Panasonic and its work in areas such as 3G and 4G handsets, Wi-Fi-enabled laptops, Wi-Fi and broadband routers, xDSL infrastructure equipment, cellular base stations and digital TV receivers.

"This broad transaction with Panasonic, one of the largest electronics companies in the world, is a very important new area of focus for our business. We believe that through tighter business relationships with licensees and partners, we can provide more value to our licensees and develop new sources of revenues for our shareholders," said Jim Skippen, CEO of Wi-LAN, in the statement.

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