Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.
ARM Dons The Armour Of MIPS IP
As ARM heads into markets controlled by other companies, it may need the armour of IP protection bestowed by today’s investment in patents held by MIPS.
ARM has put up $167.5 million to secure the protection of a chunk of MIPS patents.
ARM has paid the money to Allied Security Trust (AST) which is an anti-troll protection company.
AST is a member-funded entity which analyses patents which are up for sale, arranges for its members to put up the money to buy the patents, sells the patents to members and returns the proceeds to the contributing members.
AST members include HP, IBM, Intel, Motorola, Oracle, Philips, RIM and others. AST’s mission is to minimise the disruption to its members’ businesses caused by aggressive trolls which buy patents and then sue companies.
MIPS’ patents are important because MIPS inherited the Berkeley RISC technology developed in the early 1980s first at the University of California at Berkeley and then at Stanford University.
As ARM seeks to move its processors into servers, computers and networking, it will need to protect itself from disruptive litigation.
“Litigation is expensive and time-consuming and, in this case, a collective approach with other major industry players was the best way to remove that risk,” says ARM CEO Warren East.
Imagination Technologies has put up $60 million to secure a chunk of MIPS microprocessor patents, perpetual royalty-free rights to all ARM’s former MIPS patents, and the right to take over the business operations of MIPS and its 160 engineers.
Whether this signals an attempt by Imagination to achieve in the market what MIPS couldn’t achieve, or whether it is, like ARM, merely indulging in a defensive play, is not yet known.Tags: armour, california at berkeley, chunk, collective approach, royalty