Samsung Electro-Mechanics will likely aim to secure patents for multi layer ceramic capacitors (MLCC) for auto-component application from cross licensing partner Murata Manufacturing soon.
Samsung is planning to renew its cross licensing contract with Murata within the year at the earliest and on the first quarter of 2021 at the latest, people familiar with the matter said.
Samsung won its patent lawsuit against Murata filed to the US International Trade Commission back in 2011. Afterwards, the two signed a cross licensing agreement for patents related to MLCC. They ended their lawsuits since the agreement and has been renewing the contract since then through out the years.
The South Korean firm and its Japanese counterpart had agreed to not pay each other license fees for the patents. This has been the case for the past ten years.
However, this may change this time around as Samsung is planning to secure the rights to auto-component MLCC patents owned by Murata. Samsung falls behind Murata in the area.
Samsung is aiming to become the world’s second largest producer of auto-component MLCC by 2022 but its current patent portfolio is lacking to achieve that goal, people familiar with the matter said.
Japanese companies such as Murata, TDK and Taiyo Yuden dominate the global auto-component MLCC market. Samsung has a market share less than 10%. If Samsung can’t secure rights to related patents from Murata, it may be exposed to patent lawsuits from rivals TDK and Taiyo.
The key issue will be license fees, the people said. Samsung was coming up with a strategy so that it doesn’t have to start paying fees to Murata for the patents.
If Samsung secures the rights to the patents, it will be able to expand its presence in the market. MLCC for auto-component applications require strict reliability and durability. Automobile manufacturers don’t change suppliers unless there is a big problem with the MLCCs, making it an attractive market for Samsung. The South Korean company was currently expanding its MLCC facilities in China and South Korea.