Nova Measuring Instruments Ltd. (Nasdaq: NVMI), provider of leading edge stand alone metrology and the market leader of integrated metrology solutions to the semiconductor process control market, announced that it has licensed several of its patents for more than $1 million to a top-ten semiconductor manufacturer. The license covers the use of integrated metrology and integrated process control before and during the photolithography manufacturing step.
In September 2006 Nova invited approximately 100 companies to submit bids to acquire or license certain patents from its very large portfolio of over 60 patents. These patents have substantial value now that the industry has commenced widespread adoption of integrated metrology and the methods covered by the patents are critical for advanced manufacturing of semiconductors. Following the announcement last September, Nova has been in active discussions with numerous patent holding companies interested in purchasing the patents. In the course of these discussions, Nova was approached by certain semiconductor manufacturing companies about licensing the technology for use in their fabs. The first license agreement was concluded and the license fee has been received.
Gabi Seligsohn, President and CEO of Nova, stated “A year ago we initialized this unique process with a view to monetizing hidden intellectual property assets of our company. The deal signed, as well as the overall interest in the patents, is clear evidence of the strength of the IP and its importance to semiconductor manufacturing. We believe the use of integrated metrology and integrated process control in the patterning area of the fab will continue to grow as device manufacturers continuously confront the need to shrink and deal with advanced materials. We intend to continue discussions with additional companies interested in licensing or purchasing these patents.”
The auction process provides a broad array of semiconductor-related companies with the opportunity to bid for rights to protect their internal uses of the relevant technology, improve their marketing position by covering the activities of their customers, or enhance the value of their existing patent portfolios. Potential bidders include leading edge integrated circuit manufacturers, semiconductor equipment manufacturers, metrology companies and technology companies that have broad intellectual property portfolios.
Nova retained the law firm of Hoffman & Zur, specialists in commercializing patent rights, to develop its auction strategy and handle the process on behalf of the company.
The process covers two groups of patents:
- Integrated Metrology group – which consists of four patents that generally relate to a lithography track with an integrated optical measurement capability that can be used for various types of metrology applications including overlay registration, critical dimensions, and macro defect inspection.
- Advanced Process Control group – which consists of 2 patents related to methods for photolithographic processing involving making a spectrophotometric measurement and using it to influence the processing time, focus or exposure of a processing tool.
Nova Measuring Instruments Ltd. develops, produces and markets advanced integrated and stand alone metrology solutions for the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Nova is traded on the NASDAQ & TASE under the symbol NVMI.