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Memory Technology to Fuel the Next Round of Patent Wars: iRunway Research Report

Micron, Samsung, Toshiba, IBM and Intel Collectively Own 25 Per Cent of Semiconductor Memory Patents and Applications

AUSTIN, TX (US), February 18, 2015

iRunway, a technology consulting firm specializing in patent licensing and litigation, has released a comprehensive new report revealing leading patent holders in semiconductor memory technology.

The report examines the current patent landscape and analyzes patenting activity across DRAM, SRAM, NAND Flash, MRAM and other types of semiconductor memory. Notably, the report offers in-depth analysis of the evolution of semiconductor memory patents in the United States over a 20-year period, providing insights into key litigation and licensing collaboration between top assignees.

iRunway’s analysis covered 80,000+ granted patents and applications assigned to over 5,000+ unique assignees. Micron, Samsung, Toshiba, IBM and Intel lead the list and together own around 25 per cent of semiconductor memory patents and applications. In seminal patent holdings, SanDisk, Micron and Intel have the strongest position. Technology and IP licensing companies such as Conversant, Qualcomm, Rambus and Round Rock Research hold a significant number of seminal patents in DRAM technology; and similarly, Conversant and Round Rock in NAND Flash technology.

“As emerging memory technology begins to gain commercial acceptance, IP owners will increasingly explore avenues to monetize their patent assets,” said Carlos Greaves, Senior Vice President & Head – Semiconductor Vertical, iRunway. “Toshiba’s lawsuit against SK Hynix; Micron’s licensing deal with Round Rock Research, and the quality of portfolio that technology and IP licensing companies hold, all point to a future of growing monetization activity.”

The report also highlights a five-fold increase in the number of semiconductor memory patents involved in litigation since 2007. SanDisk, Conversant IP, Texas Instruments, Rambus and Intellectual Ventures are the top five companies having the highest number of patents involved in litigation.

“As larger memory players look to achieve greater efficiency through consolidation and partnerships, companies with high value innovations will be most sought after not only for their technologies, but also for their prized IP portfolios that help keep competitors at bay,” said Sankar Uppuluri, Vice President - Solutioning, iRunway. “The acquisition of Elpida & Numonyx by Micron, and Samsung’s acquisition of Grandis provide a preview of further possible consolidation in the semiconductor memory space, leading to greater efficiencies at scale in manufacturing and distribution of memory devices.”

iRunway’s analysis reveals some attractive small-to-medium size companies that hold a high density of seminal patents. 86 per cent of Super Talent Electronics’ memory portfolio is comprised of seminal patents, while 55.2 per cent of Thomson Licensing’s memory patents and 50 per cent of Avalanche Technology’s memory patents are seminal.

For additional information on the semiconductor memory report, please click here

About iRunway

iRunway helps corporations and law firms unlock and protect the value of patents by combining technology expertise with practical business insight to monetize patent portfolios and improve litigation outcomes. iRunway has offices in Austin, Santa Clara, Denver, New York and Bangalore (India). For more information about the company’s consulting model and in-depth analysis, visit www.i-Runway.com

George Shea
(212) 627-5766