Imagination builds bridges with Apple after tech feud
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.