Xperi picked up a portfolio of chip patents from Panasonic last December, according to USPTO assignment records. It was the second small-scale transaction between the two in the space of about one year. For the publicly traded licensing company formerly known as Tessera, it is the latest in a series of portfolios sourced from Japan, Inc.

Assignment documents show that Tessera Advanced Technologies Inc acquired nine granted patents as part of the December, 2017 deal: five from the US, four from Japan and one from China. The patents appear to be related to various semiconductor technologies, and are packaged along with a number of abandoned or expired rights. The transaction came one year after a slightly larger deal in December 2016 saw the Xperi vehicle acquire around 20 US and foreign patents from the Osaka-based company.

The two firms have an IP relationship going back at least to 2004, when Tessera licensed semiconductor technologies to Matsushita Electric, as it was then known. In two previous patent transfers between the companies Panasonic Precision Devices was the buyer, receiving a total of 23 USPTO grants from Tessera in 2013 and 2014.

Xperi made significant portfolio acquisitions in Japan during the course of its transformation from a product producer to a licensing-focused company. Chipmaker Renesas assigned the company over 200 US patents and their foreign counterparts as part of a March 2014 patent litigation settlement. Following a similar pattern, Sony assigned 38 rights to Tessera several months after the two had settled a patent licence dispute.

It doesn’t look like Panasonic and Xperi have been involved in any courtroom tangles. But the relationship comes as no surprise. Panasonic has formed partnerships and completed deals with many of the biggest names among major NPEs and PIPCOs over the last several years.

Looking at Panasonics dealings with NPEs over the last two-plus years, 2016 was dotted with small and medium sized sell-offs to a range of firms including WiLAN, Conversant, Intertrust and InterDigital. 2017, by contrast, was dominated by a single major disposal sending over 200 US patents to Intellectual Ventures in March.

That big IV deal in March took place during the same month that Panasonic’s IP Centre went through a leadership change. The market will certainly be watching whether new boss Yoshiaki Tokuda continues the company’s extensive collaboration efforts with major NPEs with deals like this one.

Panasonic patent assignments to NPEs – 2016 and 2017

Assignee

US patents

Date of assignment(s)

Notes

Tessera Advanced Technologies Inc

6

December 2017

-

Fraunhofer Institute

16

September 2017

Panasonic’s first patent transaction with the German research organisation

Intellectual Ventures

227

March 2017

Patents assigned to III Holdings 12 LLC

Tessera Advanced Technologies Inc

5

December 2016

This was the first deal in which Tessera acquired Panasonic patents. The reverse happened on two previous occasions in 2013-2014

Micro-Optimus Technologies Inc

16

November 2016

Panasonic’s third transfer to a WiLAN-owned entity following a 2013 licence agreement

Conversant Intellectual Property Management Inc

21

November 2016

Panasonic’s first transaction with Conversant

Image Processing Technologies LLC

6

September 2016

NPE managed by General Patent Corporation

Intertrust Technologies Corp

55

March 2016

Two separate assignments marked the first patent transaction between the two parties

InterDigital Patent Holdings Inc

46

March 2016

Panasonic’s first transaction with InterDigital

Intellectual Ventures

19

January-December 2016

A series of assignments were made to III Holdings 11 LLC, III Holdings 10 LLC and III Holdings 7 LLC

Source: ktMINE