Seoul Semiconductor to Auction its RF Power Amplifier & GaN Patent Portfolio

Leading LED and semiconductor solutions company, Seoul Semiconductor Co. is looking to auction its RF semiconductor and high-power LED package patent portfolio. In the first auction, the company is seeking the top bidder for 98 patent assets related to power amplifiers and gallium nitride (GaN) RF semiconductors, including 55 U.S. patents. Three of the patents are licensed to the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, confirming the value of the portfolio.

Seoul Semi’s RF patent portfolio is the result of an investment of more than $100 million in R&D by Sensor Electronic Technology Inc. (SETi), which was founded in 1999 at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York. SETi, which was completely acquired by Seoul Viosys in 2015, one of the affiliates of Seoul Semiconductor, was at the forefront of GaN device development for high power RF and UV LED technologies. SETi is now focused on UV LED technologies, thus its GaN RF patent portfolio is being auctioned.

GaN has a wider bandgap than silicon, which means it can sustain higher voltages than silicon, and is able to carry current through the device faster. GaN is becoming the technology of choice for mobile and satellite communications, radar, wireless charging and autonomous driving. With 5G implementation coming soon, the GaN RF market is developing fast. The GaN RF market will grow to USD 2 billion by 2024 (Yole Développement) and the global RF components market size is expected to reach USD 45 billion by 2025 (Market Research).

In the second auction, Seoul Semiconductor will auction more than 100 patents, including US, European, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean patents related to high power LED packages and adaptive lighting. High power LED packages are used in smartphone and automotive applications. Adaptive lighting is used in smartphone camera lenses and flash-lights and automotive headlights. In addition, these are some of the essential patents for high power LED chips enabling thin and small design of lenses and flash-lights to respond to market demands for diverse functions of smartphone camera.

According to Seoul Semiconductor’s Founder, Chung Hoon Lee and SETi’s Chief Executive Officer, Chae Hon Kim, Seoul Semiconductor is now looking for potential buyers licensing partners for certain of these technologies. The company believes that it can be a good opportunity for startups and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), who have difficulty in holding key patents, to expand their business.

Meanwhile, some large companies have also negatively affected the LED industry by having unlawful access to Seoul Semi’s trade secrets by soliciting employees preferring low-cost products that ignore intellectual property rights, according to Lee and Kim. As a part of the new patent management strategy, the company will sell some of its patents to companies that do not compete directly, and will invest the profits from the auction to develop new technologies in the future.

The auction process is being handled by GoodIP, the digital licensing platform that helps tech companies and research centers identify licensing partners for their intellectual property. GoodIP helps tech companies and research centers identify licensing partners for their intellectual property through its digital licensing platform. GoodIP is supported by Fluxunit/Osram Ventures and the LMU Entrepreneurship Center.