UDC acquires BASF's OLED IP for $96 million

Universal Display announced that it acquired BASF's entire OLED IP portfolio, for 87 Euro million (about $96 million). BASF's IP portfolio, representing 15 years of R&D, includes over 500 issues and pending patents around the world in 86 patent families - mostly regarding phosphorescent OLED materials and technologies. BASF’s OLED portfolio has an average lifetime of 10 years.

UDC says that BASF's patents will help the company develop and deliver an all-phosphorescent emissive stack. Specifically, UDC is believing that this will help the company develop commercial blue emissive systems. Including the new BASF patents, UDC will have over 4,000 issued and pending patents

BASF now reports that it ceased its OLED research activities at the end of 2015, following a careful strategic examination. With the sale of the OLED IP assets, the withdrawal is finalized.

In September 2014, BASF opened a new R&D center for electronic materials at Sungkyunkwan University in Korea. The new center will focus on materials for next-generation display technologies - specifically OLED displays and flexible displays (OLEDs and e-paper displays).

In 2013 BASF announced it will launch a commercial blue phosphorescent emitter by the end of 2014 aimed towards OLED lighting panels. In 2014 BASF partnered with the Graphene Research Centre (GRC) at the National University of Singapore to develop the use of graphene in organic electronics devices - such as OLED devices and OPVs. BASF also collaborated with Philips on the transparent hybrid OPV/OLED lighting panels unveiled in 2012 for Daimler's concept EV.

As of March 31 2016, UDC had $395.7 million in cash, it should not have any problems financing this IP acquisition. Earlier this week UDC announced that it is going to acquire Adesis - a privately held contract research organization specializing in organic and organometallic synthetic R&D and commercialization for $36 million in cash.

In past years BASF has been fighting with UDC over phosphorescent patents in European courts. The EPO revoked some of UDC's OLED patents, and some were upheld. This is obviously another incentive for UDC - to remove some of the patent litigation risks. In 2012, UDC contracted Duksan Hi-Metal to produce OLED host materials in Korea. as part of that deal, Duksan also agreed to dismiss all its pending patent invalidation proceedings in Korea. So this is not the first time that UDC eliminates patent-related risks.

Disclosure: the author of this post holds some shares in Universal Display

Posted: Jun 29,2016 by Ron Mertens