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Japan reacts to Taiwan chip threat

Japanese IP exchange opens for business

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IPTC Planning, originally set up earlier this year to study the feasibility of creating a business out of the trading of semiconductor design assets (intellectual property, or IP), has evolved into a business enterprise called IPTC Corporation.

The idea of running a six month feasibility study to see if IP trading has business potential is a tad amusing considering that the virtual component exchange (VCX) has been happily doing just that for over two years in Livingston, Scotland.

Founder IPTC members Toshiba, Mitsubishi and Nikkei Business Publications have been joined by nine additional companies: Innotech, Canon, Thine Electronics, Zuken, Spinnaker Systems, Matsushita, Mitsubishi Electric, Meitec and Rohm. In the process, the company has increased its working capital to 430 million yen

IPTC President and CEO Shojiro Mori said: "While the pursuit of profit is important, even more important is that we establish an exchange in Japan and provide a service for the trading of semiconductor IP."

Mori added that the business would likely operate at break-even level for the foreseeable future.

Last month, Scotland's VCX signed up seven new members with the addition of Sun, NEC, Nortel Networks, Conexant Systems, Scottish electronics companies 4i2i and Nallatech, and SIP supplier Dolphin Integration, bringing its membership to more than 40 companies.

But Andy Travers, CEO of the VCX, doesn't see IPTC as competition:

"We're working together. We've already had several meetings with IPTC and Dr Mori," he says. "There are quite a few Japanese members of the VCX, and IPTC has primarily been set up to allow Japanese industry to compete better with Taiwan by establishing a standard foundry process in Japan.

"They're looking to build towards becoming a test shop to harden IP so it can be used more quickly and have already intimated a desire to cooperate with the VCX. We're due to go to talk with them again at the end of this month - one of the items for discussion will be licensing our patented IP trading system to them."

IPTC intends to begin experimental trading this year and in December will begin signing up further members with a view to launching official trading in April next year.

The company expects to have around 100 IP products tested and registered for trading by April 2001, and aims to have 1500 registered by 2005. ®

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