The nation’s research powerhouse, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院), yesterday said that it aimed to launch the first patent fund in the first quarter next year to help local technology companies fend off escalating legal battles in major industries, such as displays.
The institute is planning to initially invest NT$50 million (US$1.73 million) in setting up an intellectual property (IP) company, or IP bank, in the middle of this month, ITRI vice president Johnson Sher (佘祥生) said during a media briefing.
It also planned to invest NT$200 million to initiate a joint private IP fund with local companies of at least NT$500 million in size, Sher said.
“We hope to launch the first IP fund within six months after the IP bank starts operation,” he said.
The IP bank would help manage, acquire and license intellectual properties owned by the IP fund and the fund members would be able to utilize those intellectual assets to defend against patent infringement lawsuits, or to file complaints against their competitors, the ITRI said.
“We think it will be faster and easier to set up a fund with an aim of defending patent infringement lawsuits because it is clear what patents we need to acquire, compared to building up patent portfolios for emerging industries,” Sher said.
“We are talking with companies in the green energy, display and smartphone [industries] ... We hope to assist Taiwanese companies to safeguard their market share by boosting their IP strength,” Sher said. “Patents [have] become a crucial weapon [to guard their turf].”
Taiwanese smartphone makers and LCD manufacturers have been at the center of patent infringement lawsuits in recent years. Smartphone maker HTC Corp’s (宏達電) legal battles were the latest in a slew of patent infringement cases in different industries that involved the nation’s major display companies, Chimei Innolux Corp (奇美電子) and AU Optronics Corp (友達光電).
The announcement by the ITRI came one day after the announcement by Japanese LCD panel makers Sony Corp, Toshiba Corp and Hitachi Ltd that they planned to create a new company, called Japan Display, by integrating their displays businesses used mainly in smartphones and tablet devices.
The new display firm would be 70 percent financed by the Japanese government affiliate Innovation Network Corp of Japan, established in 2009, with the task of helping Japanese firms stave off intensifying competition.
Last year, the South Korean government also financed the establishment of Intellectual Discovery Ltd, which purchases intellectual properties to help enhance and strengthen the global competitiveness of its IP industry.
“Our IP bank will operate differently. The capital will come largely from the private sector,” Sher said, given Taiwan’s problematic government efficiency.
In future, patent funds are expected to expand to other industries such as the new alternative energy, LED and healthcare industries.
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