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In brief: Nichia and Seoul, AXT hires, Infinera IPO

Seoul Semiconductor responds to Nichia's latest lawsuit by saying that companies should not use patents for "improper sales and marketing"; with a new director of technology on board, AXT is set to explore GaP substrates; Infinera is ready to raise up to $190 million by going public.

Seoul fires missive at Nichia
Korean LED maker Seoul Semiconductor has dismissed Nichia s latest lawsuit over blue chips by calling for companies to stop using their patents for "improper sales and marketing".

Nichia filed a complaint in the Osaka District Court, accusing Seoul s Japanese subsidiary of infringing Nichia s 3511970 and 2778349 patents with its Z-Power LED P9 series of products.

Seoul responded by saying that because it mostly uses Cree s chips in the Z-Power LEDs (although some SemiLEDs chips have also featured), the product is covered by the cross-license agreement between Cree and Nichia.

"Seoul Semiconductor has no intent to dispute with Nichia regarding this issue, regardless of Nichia s patent infringement allegation," said the Korean firm.

"Patents should be respected. But companies should not use patents for their improper sales and marketing purpose in business activities."

AXT hires LED crystal specialist
Compound semiconductor crystal specialist Chia-Li Wei has joined AXT as the substrate vendor s new senior director of technology.

The appointment appears to signal a move by AXT into liquid encapsulated Czochralski (LEC) crystal growth, since this is where the 25-year veteran of the industry's expertise lies.

AXT s CEO Phil Yin said of the new hire: "His vast experience in LEC crystal growth technology will allow us to broaden our product portfolio and increase our total market opportunity by offering alternative substrates grown using vertical gradient freeze (VGF) technology for applications that are not currently addressed at AXT."

Yin adds that the move will also see AXT explore new compound semiconductor substrate products such as GaP, which are best suited to LEC crystal growth.

Infinera eyes stock windfall
InP photonic integrated circuit (PIC) manufacturer Infinera is hoping to raise up to $193.2 million before costs when it completes its initial public offering of stock.

No date has been set for the sale yet, but the California-based company is offering an initial 14 million shares priced at between $10 and $12, with an additional 2.1 million shares available to the underwriters at a discount.

In its most recent fiscal quarter, which ended on March 31, 2007, Infinera posted a healthy ramp in total revenues to $49 million, and a gross profit of nearly $12 million.

However, the firm does have a huge research and development bill, and when all costs were factored in, that gross profit turned into an operating loss of $17.4 million.

• Infinera has also won a new customer, with Telekenex, a "business-grade" IP service provider, choosing to deploy one of Infinera s digital optical networks in the San Francisco Bay Area to support applications including voice over IP. The networks are based around PIC technology, with a multitude of functions integrated on a single photonic chip.

Infinera CEO Jagdeep Singh said that the deal showed the versatility of the digital optical network architecture for supporting both long-haul and metropolitan networks.

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