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Business briefs

22 Dec 2006

Including news from Nichia, Huawei, Siemens Networks, Nokia, Light Blue Optics, PMC-Sierra, Ultratech, Ericsson, Redback, Cymer, Nikon, Zygo, Osram and others.

• Litigious Japanese LED manufacturer Nichia has slapped Argos, one of the UK's best-known retailers, with a new patent infringement claim, writes Michael Hatcher, editor of Compound Semiconductor. Lawyers from the company have accused Argos of infringing Nichia's intellectual property through the sale of white LED Christmas lights this season, as well as another product that was on sale a year ago.

Nichia said that at least two of its European patents were infringed by these products, although it did not specify exactly which patents these were. The Japanese firm is seeking both a permanent injunction and damages from Argos, which at the time of writing was still selling the disputed Christmas lights via its UK web site.

Meanwhile, Nichia has issued a firm rebuttal of claims by the Korean LED maker Seoul Semiconductor (SSC) that a recent court ruling in Seoul could have an impact on other litigation still pending around the world.

Last week, the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) ruled in favor of Baron Tech from Korea in a case against Nichia relating to LCD backlights. SSC said that the side-view white LEDs under dispute in the case were worth approximately $200 million in annual sales from Nichia to its Korean customers.

• The US National Science Foundation has awarded the W. M. Keck Observatory $2 million to improve the sensitivity and resolution of the Keck Interferometer. The improvements will enable the instrument to detect Jupiter-sized planets around other stars and test predictions of Einstein's general theory of relativity in the chaotic core of our galaxy. The three-year grant is from NSF's Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI), which each year funds more than 200 proposals to develop or purchase scientific instrumentation.

Huawei Technologies is the first Chinese telecommunication equipment supplier to have been selected by Telecom Italia to carry out various wavelength division multiplexing projects. The deal builds on Huawei's other successful partnerships with European mainstream operators: British Telecom's 21CN program and a CW / DWDM project for Dutch operator, KPN.

Siemens Networks is to merge into a 50-50 joint venture with the Nokia Networks Business Group, creating a telecommunications powerhouse that will be called Nokia Siemens Networks. Siemens says that the new company will be a global communications leader with strong positions in key growth segments of the fixed and mobile network infrastructure and services, featuring a world-class fixed-mobile convergence capability.

Light Blue Optics, a developer of miniature laser projection technology, today announced the closing of a $1 million extension to its seed funding round. 3i led the round which also included investment from NESTA and the Cambridge Capital Group. The money will enable LBO to accelerate its product development program, and follows the closure of a US$2.5 million seed funding round in July 2006, also led by 3i plc.

LBO has also signed an exclusive licensing agreement on a key patent with Cambridge Enterprise, the University of Cambridge's technology commercialization service. The patent is a method for real-time, full-color holographic laser projection.

PMC-Sierra has revised its business expectations for Q4 2006. It is now expecting revenues for the quarter ending December 31 2006, to be in the range of $100 million to $105 million. PMC's previous outlook for Q4 revenues announced in October was in the range of $105 million to $112 million. The revision in outlook for revenues is primarily attributable to reduced customer demand.

Ultratech has also updated financial guidance for Q4 2006, ending December 31, 2006. Full unaudited results will be reported on February 1, 2007, but the company has revised down its revenue and earnings forecast for the quarter. It now expects revenue to be down sequentially 25%-30% from Q3 2006 compared to earlier guidance of revenue being down sequentially 8%-10%, as predicted in October 2006. The revenue shortfall is due primarily to "softer business conditions", said a company statement.

Ericsson and Redback Networks have signed a definitive agreement under which Ericsson will acquire Redback for $25 per share, or an aggregate price of approximately $1.9 billion. The offer represents a premium of 60% to Redback's [90-day] volume weighted average stock price. Deal details include: Ericsson offers $25 per share in cash; total consideration of $1.9 billion; transaction to be internally funded; Redback brings leading IP edge technology, critical in IP networks; expands Ericsson's IP market presence giving growth opportunities.

Cymer, a developer of excimer lasers used in semiconductor manufacturing, and Nikon this week have celebrated today the 1,000th laser light source shipment and the companies' 20-year partnership. The milestone shipment--an XLA 300 laser light source--will be integrated on a S610C lithography scanner, to be used, by Nikon, in immersion lithography production to image next-generation integrated circuits.

People

Zygo has appointed James Northup as president, Metrology Division. Northup recently joined the company as executive VP, corporate business development. Previously he was COO with Toppan Photomasks (formerly DuPont Photomasks), and president of Photronics.

•Josef Ringsgwandl is to take over as Chief Financial Officer from Robert Wittgen on the managing board of Osram Opto Semiconductors. Wittgen is moving to the parent company Osram where he will take on the role of Global Chief Information Officer. As CIO the latter now takes on global responsibility for information technology in the Osram group.

First Light ImagingCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.CeNing Optics Co LtdAlluxaLaCroix Precision OpticsBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationHyperion Optics
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