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Patent Licensing Companies in the Semiconductor Market - Patent Litigation Risk and Potential Targets

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KM17002 Patent Licensing Companies in Semiconductor Market FLYER

The semiconductor industry has all the attributes that appeal to patent licensing companies (PLCs): Are you in their sights?



Patent Licensing Companies (PLCs) are non-operating companies concentrated on creating the majority of their income from licensing patents to or litigating against operating companies suspected to infringe their patent rights. Other related terms include non-practicing entities (NPEs), patent holding companies (PHCs), patent monetization entities (PMEs), patent assertion entities (PAEs) and Patent Trolls. PLCs commonly acquire their patents from other companies, and then monetize them via aggressive patent litigation. Some PLCs have R&D activities in order to generate their own patents, and they monetize them by licensing.

The RPX Corporation's March 2015 report states 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". Patent Licensing Companies operate in fields with high probability of patent infringement, mainly in USA, where litigation damages are much higher than in Europe or Asia. In a patent infringement action, the potential sales volume plays a major role for assessing the damage award. Thus, the PLCs come into action when the market has reached a critical size and target companies have made irreversible investments.

Patent litigation risk tends to increase as new technologies emerge, or as existing technologies combine to create new products and services. The convergence of technologies in the semiconductor field leads to an increase in patent litigation in that sector. The semiconductor industry brings together all ingredients to appeal to PLCs. These include strong consolidation, with many mergers and acquisitions (M&A), numerous patents for sale from bankrupt companies and M&A, complex patented inventions, the colossal amount of products embedding semiconductor devices, big companies, and a lot of money. All companies designing, manufacturing or marketing semiconductor-based products are potential targets for PLCs' next patent litigation.

PatentAcquisitionDynamicsofPLC KnowMade Febr2017
In this report we reveal the most aggressive Patent Licensing Companies in the semiconductor field, their recent patent acquisitions, and their potential targets for future patent litigation. More than 2,880 semiconductor-related US patents have been acquired by PLCs since 2013. Now, it is a critical time to assess the patent litigation risks and know the potential targets related to these recent patent acquisitions:

  • Which PLCs recently acquired semiconductor-related patents?
  • Which PLCs represent the biggest threat for operating companies?
  • Which products and which companies have already been involved in patent litigation with PLCs in the semiconductor field?
  • Which companies are potential targets for PLCs?
  • How can operating companies deal with the PLC threat?



This report provides an in-depth analysis of patent litigation filed by PLCs involved in the semiconductor field, including the dynamics of US patent litigation, defendants, accused products and the current status of the litigation cases.

We have evaluated both the aggressiveness and the litigation risk from each PLC. According to our analysis, seven PLCs may be considered as major threats to practicing companies involved in the semiconductor market: WiLAN, Acacia Research, Conversant IP Management, Intellectual Ventures, Rambus, Round Rock Research and Tessera. Some of them have shown strong patent enforcement activity since 2014, and they will continue to aggressively enforce their patents against semiconductor players over the next few years.

AggressivenessofPLC KnowMade Febr2017



Many industrial companies at every level of the semiconductor supply chain, including integrated device manufacturers, outsourced semiconductor assembly and test companies, and equipment and material suppliers are potential targets for Patent Licensing Companies. For each PLC, we provide a detailed IP profile of their recent patent acquisitions in the semiconductor field, including:

  • Patent acquisition dynamics
  • Patented technologies, including memory, transistor, sensor, radio frequency and power devices, manufacturing, and packaging
  • Remaining lifetime of the patent portfolio
  • Latest patent litigation, including which companies have been sued for patent infringement, accused products and current status
  • Potential targets by technical segment: the main companies facing the highest risk of patent litigation regarding patents owned by the PLC

PotentialTargetsofPLC KnowMade Feb2017



Table of contents

Introduction 5

> Patent Licensing Companies
> Scope and objectives of the report
> Main patent assignees mentioned in this report



Methodology 20

> Patent search, selection and analysis
> Terminologies for patent analysis


Patent Landscape Overview 15

> Main Patent Licensing Companies in semiconductors
> Dynamics of US patented invention reassignments to PLCs
> Expected expiration date of US patent reassigned to PLCs in 2013-2016
> Average remaining lifetime of US granted patents reassigned to PLCs in 2013-2016


Patent Litigation Overview 20

> Definitions
> Dynamics of US patent litigations filed by selected PLCs in all market sectors
> Aggressiveness of selected Patent Licensing Companies in all market sectors
> Dynamics of US patent litigation filed by selected PLCs in semiconductor market
> Accused products and defendants in recent US Patents litigations in semiconductor market
> Aggressiveness of selected Patent Licensing Companies in semiconductor market
> Litigation risk assessment from PLCs which acquired US patents in 2013-2016

Patented Technologies Acquired by PLCs in 2013-2016 29

> Patent segmentation
> US patented inventions split by technology
> Patent Licensing Company patent portfolios split by technology



IP Profile of Key Patent Licensing Companies 33

> Interactions between PLCs and practising entities
> Tessera
> Conversant IP Management
> Intellectual Ventures
> Acacia Research
> Round Rock Research
> DSS Technology Management
> Future Link Systems
> X2Y Attenuators
> PACT XPP Technologies


For each Patent Licensing Company:
> Company profile
> Recent patent acquisitions in semiconductor field
> Time evolution of patent litigation in semiconductor market
> Latest litigation campaigns in semiconductor market
> Potential targets in semiconductor market
> Potential targets by technology segment



Conclusion 95


Knowmade Presentation 98

About the authors

Knowmade is a Patent, Technology and Strategy consulting company involved in Microelectronics, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology and Life Sciences.


We provide Patent Search, Patent Landscape, Patent Analysis, Scientific Landscape, State of the Art, Technology Scouting, Technology Tracking, Alerts and Updates.


Our service offer consists of standard reports, custom studies & on-demand tracking, strategy consulting and training.


We combine information search services, scientific expertise, powerful analytics and visualization tools, and proprietary methodologies for analyzing patents and scientific information.


Knowmade supports research laboratories, industrial companies and investors in their business development. 



























  • Ranking of PLCs according to their recent patent acquisitions in the semiconductor field

  • Dynamics of patent acquisitions and patented technology including memory, transistor, sensor, manufacturing and packaging

  • Expected expiration date of patents and remaining lifetime of PLCs' patent portfolios

  • Dynamics of US patent litigation filed by PLCs in the semiconductor market and more broadly

  • Details on the latest patent litigation filed by PLC in the semiconductor field, including defendants, accused products and current status of the litigation cases

  • Aggressiveness of PLCs in the semiconductor market and more broadly

  • Litigation risk assessment from PLCs and potential targeted companies in the semiconductor field

  • IP profiles of main PLCs