Imag­i­na­tion builds bridges with Ap­ple af­ter tech feud

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By James Tit­comb in San Fran­cisco

THE Chi­nese own­ers of Bri­tish mi­crochip-maker Imag­i­na­tion Tech­nolo­gies have called off a bit­ter dis­pute with Ap­ple. Ray Bing­ham, Imag­i­na­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, said the com­pany had ceased hos­til­i­ties with the US tech gi­ant af­ter it was bought by Bei­jing’s Canyon Bridge Part­ners 11 months ago.

Imag­i­na­tion – once seen as one of Bri­tain’s most suc­cess­ful pub­lic tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies – had threat­ened le­gal ac­tion against Ap­ple over a dis­pute re­gard­ing its graph­ics tech­nol­ogy.

Last year it emerged that Ap­ple planned to de­sign its own iphone graph­ics pro­ces­sors in­stead of us­ing Imag­i­na­tion’s de­signs. The com­pany’s shares crashed and even­tu­ally it was sold off to Canyon Bridge for £550m.

Be­fore the deal, Imag­i­na­tion had started a “dis­pute res­o­lu­tion pro­ce­dure”, and ques­tioned whether Ap­ple was ca­pa­ble of de­sign­ing its own chips ab­sent of Imag­i­na­tion’s in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty. Ap­ple had hit back, call­ing the com­pany “mis­lead­ing”.

Mr Bing­ham, who is also a part­ner at Canyon Bridge, said the com­pany was now try­ing to res­tore re­la­tions with the iphone maker.

“There was talk of a dis­pute [but] it never came to any for­mal ac­tion as far as I know, cer­tainly not since we’ve owned the com­pany and it’s cer­tainly not the case now,” Mr Bing­ham said. “We’re hope­ful they’ll be an im­por­tant cus­tomer for us for a long time.”

Imag­i­na­tion’s de­signs fea­tured in ev­ery iphone and ipad from 2008 un­til last year, when Ap­ple started re­duc­ing its re­liance on the com­pany. The iphone maker de­scribes the graph­ics units in its lat­est hand­sets as be­ing com­pletely Ap­ple-de­signed.

Mr Bing­ham said he did not know if Imag­i­na­tion would con­tinue to re­ceive any roy­al­ties on the new iphones. How­ever, the com­pany was now con­cen­trat­ing on ap­ply­ing its ex­per­tise to new ar­eas such as ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, and hoped Ap­ple would li­cense its tech­nol­ogy again in fu­ture.

Imag­i­na­tion made legally bind­ing prom­ises to main­tain in­vest­ment in the UK for at least one year. Mr Bing­ham said the com­pany was aim­ing to ex­pand in China but had no plans to re­duce its foot­print in Bri­tain.

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