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Reanimated Picsel lays off staff, plots with Samsung

Patents mortaged in mystery deal

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Picsel, developers of innovative mobile rendering software, is back from the dead with the same management, but many fewer employees and financial backing from Samsung.

The original managers bought the company from the administrators, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, along with the patents held by the company that represent the real assets. But since then they have put half the staff under notice of redundancy and entered into complicated deals with Samsung using company patents as security against future developments.

We understand that 29 of the 50 staff who survived the administration process have been put under notice of redundancy, but at least those staff received the back-wages owed to them. Ex-employees still owed redundancy have been forced to join the queue of creditors left behind when Picsel ceased to exist.

Not that Picsel isn't still around, the new company rapidly changed its name to "Picsel UK Limited", not to be confused with "Picsel Trustees Limited", which is also active. Unlike "Picsel Technologies Limited", which became "Picsel (Research) Limited" and is in administration, along with "Picsel (IP) Limited", formerly "Picsel Technologies Limited" and before that "Picsel Research Limited". And if that's not confusing enough, there's "Picsel Holdings Limited", formally "Picsel (Holdings) Limited" to consider, before we even start on the Guernsey-registered companies and "Picsel (Malta)".

The latter is of particular interest given the way it is named in an agreement between Picsel UK Limited and Samsung, regarding the use of Picsel (Malta)'s patents as security against the deal between them. The particulars of that deal aren't public, but presumably include development of a new version of Picsel's file-viewing software for Samsung in exchange for the funds needed to continue running the company.

Not that there is much of a company left: despite the management hanging on, the remaining staff are understandably nervous working for a company that has almost as many names as employees.

It is an ignominious fate for a company that created a great technology and won awards but comprehensively failed to upsell to existing customers. It remains to be seen whether the deal with Samsung will be enough to save the Scottish firm. ®

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