The European Commission launched on the 15th of January a "Study on the changing role of intellectual property in the semiconductor industry - including non-practicing entities". This study will focus on the expected changes in IP strategies and patenting practises of the semiconductor industry due to the concentration/specialisation, the emergence of foundries and fabless, technological developments in the sector and the appearance of non-practising entities (NPE).

The study will also focus on the effects these developments will have for the further development of the global semiconductor sector in general and the European clusters in particular. The semiconductor industry is a global industry with the main actors based in a limited number of countries, especially regarding the components manufacturing. Outside Europe the main players are to be found in the USA, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Within Europe there are four dominant clusters active in the design and manufacturing of semi-conductors (Grenoble, Dresden, Eindhoven/Leuven, Villach  and Leixlip), one cluster predominantly in the production of equipment (Eindhoven) but design/fabless companies are more widely spread and less linked to existing clusters.

The semiconductor sector is so competitive and essential for the competitiveness of almost all other manufacturing sectors that specific patterns of co-operation have emerged between the players to stay in business and to be able to follow the International Technological Roadmap for Semi-conductors (ITRS). This dynamism has had its effect on IP strategies and patterns of patenting of the stakeholders in the last 20 years. The study will be ready at the beginning of April 2014. It is conducted by a Dutch consortium consisting of TNO and CWTS.

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