May 30, 2016
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IP News in Brief May, 2016
Conor Stuart/In-house reporter at IP Observer

E. Sun Bank teams up with National Taiwan University students on G-coin Blockchain Development

Taiwan's E. Sun Bank announced on May 24 that it is teaming up with G-coin, the blockchain team of National Taiwan University's FinTech and Blockchain Center, to form a blockchain development team, aimed at developing technology for use in Taiwan's financial sector and the global economy, according to Taipei-based Now News.

This is the latest of E. Sun Bank’s FinTech deployments that we reported on last month. Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission recently published a white paper on Taiwan's Fintech development strategy, in which it listed blockchain technology, along with mobile finance, cloud-based services, big data and biometrics as the five major infrastructural foundations for the sector’s development. E. Sun Bank stated that it has already begun working in all five areas and has already had some success in mobile finance, cloud services and big data analysis. Through the agreement with the G-coin team, the bank hopes to create blockchain technology of practical use to the financial sector.

Dr Liao Shih-wei, an associate professor at the NTU Fintech and Blockchain Center was cited by the paper as stating that blockchain is, in essence, an open, connected and self-regulating trust mechanism, without which it wouldn't be secure. Since the popularization of the Bank 3.0 concept in Taiwan, E. Sun has made substantial investments in FinTech over time.

IoT Could Boost Taiwan’s Andes Tech to No. 4 Spot in Global Silicon IP Sector in 2016

Taiwanese system-on-chip (SoC) manufacturer Andes Technology and its mother company MediaTek are teaming up to take advantage of opportunities in the Internet of Things (IoT) market, according to Taipei’s China Times. On May 25 Andes Technology president Lin Chih-ming stated that IoT deals made up almost 30% of contracts signed by the company last year and this year the company plans to facilitate the production of 600 million client integrated circuits in line with a boom in the IoT market, which would push the company up to the number four ranking in the global silicon intellectual property (SIP) sector from its current place in fifth.

In the 11 years since Andes Technology was founded it has already built eight CPU platforms and two IP platforms, and on June 2 they will hold a forum on embedded technology, at which they will launch a proposal for using the Hornet product solution for IoT applications, using embedded cores, smart networks, cloud-to-end and "cool applications".

Lin stated on May 25 that UK-based ARM currently occupies the top spot in the SIP sector, with an 80% market share. Its rival in second place, only occupies a 7% market share, while the No. 3 firm occupies a 5% market share and the No. 4 occupies around a 3% market share. Andes Tech is currently in the No. 5 spot, but hopes to move up to fourth place this year, according to the paper.

The company’s earnings per share (EPS) for last year was NT$0.11 (US$0.00338), better than the NT$0.02 (US$0.00061) in 2014. The company's accumulated revenue was NT$42.1 million (US$1.3 million) over the last four months, down 46.08% year on year.

Since Andes Tech was listed on the Emerging Stock Board of the Taipei Exchange in August of last year it has developed its IoT and Internet of Cars businesses rapidly. The company is expected to go public on the main board this year, according to the paper.

VR Game Developer Winking Entertainment to List in Taiwan Next Year

Shanghai-based virtual reality (VR) game developer Winking Entertainment is expected to return to its CEO's home market in Taiwan to go public and will launch four VR games this year, according to Taiwan-based business news site MoneyDJ.

The company is expected to deliver its application to the Taiwan stock exchange in the middle of next year, according to the news site. Company CEO Chan Cheng-han was cited by the news site as stating that the company has three main business engines, including VR, intellectual property (IP) and taking on outsourced artwork for other firms. They are expected to release 4 VR products this year, and as many as 10 next year.

Winking Entertainment took NT$300 million (US$9.1 million) in revenue last year and are expecting NT$400 million (US$12.1 million) next year.

Winking is currently registered in the Cayman Islands, and its shareholders include United Microelectronics Corporation, Cathay Financial Holding Company, Taishin Financial Holding Company, SinoPac Financial Holdings Company and the Shin Kong Group, as well as a personal investment from Hsuan Ming-chi, the vice-chairman of United Microelectronics Corporation. The company will return to the Taiwan market next year to go public as a foreign-owned company.

Winking Entertainment has worked on the artwork of many big game developers as an outsourcer, including The Magic Blade by Shenzhen-based Tencent, the Final Fantasy series by Tokyo-based Square Enix, Blade & Soul by Seoul-based NCSOFT, Knights of Valor, licensed by International Game Systems, developed by Shanghai's EnjoyMi and distributed by Shanghai Kingnet Technology, as well Legend of Zu Mountain, a mobile game based on a Chinese martial arts drama of the same name.

After ten years of experience of outsourcing the company was able to transition smoothly into VR game development. Winking have more staff familiar with game engine Unreal Engine 4 than anyone else in the industry, according to the news site. The four games it is currently working on are all being developed using Unreal Engine 4. One of these, Unearthing Mars, is being developed for the Playstation VR platform, after they signed a contract with Sony at the beginning of this year. They are also working with HTC to release several VR products for the HTC Vive platform.

Winking Entertainment also owns the rights to popular game series Heroine Anthem and X.A.O.C. As well as licensing the development of related games, they'll also license the animation, film and internet drama rights. The film rights to X.A.O.C. have already been licensed to a Hollywood film studio.

Wuhan State-owned Concrete Firm Granted Utility Model Patent for a 3D Printing Nozzle

China Construction Commercial Concrete, a subsidiary of state-owned China West Construction Group Company based in Wuhan, in China's northern Hebei province, has been granted a utility model patent on a 3D printing nozzle device that allows for smoother concrete surfaces, according to local paper Chutian Metropolis Daily.

The nozzle can be tilted to the vertical during printing and the flattening component incorporated into the device which prints the material can move in all directions, improving the speed and the surface quality of the surface and appearance.

3D printed buildings are becoming more common in China, according to the paper, which cited industry insiders as stating that the reason for this is the speed, the low cost and that it is more environmentally friendly.

Taiwan Semiconductor Sector Predicted to See Growth of 5.5% in 2016: Report

The output value of Taiwan's semiconductor industry will reach NT$2.24 trillion (US$68.79 billion) in 2016, outpacing the entire world with a growth rate of 5.5%, according to predictions by Taipei's Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC). MIC researcher Shi Ya-ju stated that in the context of the gradual recovery of the European and US economies, there will likely be growth in most industry sectors year on year, with the exception of the computer memory sector, which will remain weak.

In 2016 the global semiconductor industry will contract 3.2% from 2015 to a value of US$329 billion, according to MIC predictions. The under-performance of the global semiconductor sector will be mainly due to the effect of the diminishing scale of the PC sector and the single digit growth in smartphone shipments, the institute stated.

Taiwan's integrated circuit (IC) design industry is expected to see revenue growth of 13.5% year on year in the first half of 2016. Shi stated that as stockpiles go down, end-client demand starts to rebound and new products bring new customers to the market, IC design firms will perform better than other sub-sectors.

Looking towards the second half of 2016, with no growth in China's economy apparent and no new smartphone markets on the horizon, the traditional busy season will not see much effect and the IC design industry will show only slight growth on the first half of the year, said Shi. Overall, the output value of Taiwan's IC design industry could see growth of 7% on 2015, reaching NT$550.4 billion (US$16.9 billion).

In 2016 the output value of Taiwan's merchant foundry sector will reach NT$1.1 trillion (US$33.7 billion), 7.7% growth on 2015, according to MIC predictions. Demand for the advanced fabrication processes of 28 nm and below should be watched carefully along with the performance of the 8-inch wafer capacity fabrication process required by the Internet of Things (IoT), according to Shi, adding that Taiwanese foundries can expect to maintain stable growth thanks to demand from high and medium range and low-cost smartphones and new IoT applications.

Given the demand for chips for low-cost to mid-range smartphones from Taiwan foundries and the gradual recovery of demand for stocks of mid to large-sized LCD driver ICs in the first quarter, MIC predicted that foundry output would reach NT$249.1 billion (US$7.6 billion) in the first quarter, a contraction of 5.7% year on year and slight growth of 1% from the previous quarter. At the start of the second quarter, mid-range and low-cost smartphone demand has continued to push up demand for 28nm production capacity and there is expected to be overall growth of 6.3% on the previous quarter.

Looking towards the second half of the year, Taiwan foundries can expect a surge in chip production due to demand for 16nm and 20nm advanced fabrication processes from high-end smartphone makers, with output expected to resurge from the first half of the year.

The MIC predicts that the IC packaging and testing industry output will be NT$95.3 billion (US$2.9 billion), down 3.2% year on year, likely due to the traditional slow season and upstream customers divesting themselves of stockpiles.

After the second quarter, Apple and other big smartphone brands will gradually launch new models, which suggests a resurgence in demand for advanced packaging, such as System in Package (SiP), due to the gradual increase of new features, including built-in fingerprint recognition and Force Shock technology, which will be sustained into the second half of the year, according to the institute, which added that the Taiwan packaging and testing industry can expect moderate growth in successive quarters. However, as the smartphone market gets more and more saturated, growth will be limited in scale, the institute predicted.

According to MIC predictions, the gross output of the IC packaging and testing industry for 2016 will be NT$409.8 billion (US$12.6 billion), growth of 2.7% on 2015.

Shi stated the sustained decline of the PC market, the limited scale of the current wearable devices market and IoT still being in its formative stages, the semiconductor market in 2016 lacks a powerful driver, which will also affect the IC packaging and testing industry's performance. After the second quarter, it's predicted that US, South Korean and Japanese NAND Flash producers will continue producing high-capacity 3D NAND Flash, which provides an opportunity to raise the penetration of end-user products, such as solid-state drives (SSDs), providing potential for packaging and testing industry growth.

The dynamic random access memory (DRAM) industry is expected to contract 3.9% in 2016 compared to 2015, to an output value of NT$174.6 billion (US$5.4 billion), according to MIC predictions.

Shi stated that with the exception of Inotera Memories, which has been bought by US multinational Micron (exchange of shares is expected to be completed in mid-2016) and still produces standard DRAM, Taiwan memory manufacturers have raised the proportion of production of niche products in recent years. These niche products have a broad range of applications, including network communications, set-top boxes, servers, smartphones, internet TV, IoT and memory for use in automotive electronics. Shi predicted that after avoiding the risk of volatility in the price of standard DRAM products, profits for Taiwan memory manufacturers should stabilize.

The gross output for the DRAM sector in the first quarter was NT$29.4 billion (US$901 million), a contraction of 26.5% year on year and a slip of 5.4% from the previous quarter. From the second quarter onwards, with the increase in the production output of 20nm fab chips and the improvement in IoT products, the second half of the year may see a better performance than the first half of the year.

Taipei Customs Intercept 17,000 Fake Viagra Pills

Between January and February of this year, two batches of imitation Viagra were intercepted on their way from China to Taiwan, according to a May 26 press release by the Taipei Customs Administration, under the Ministry of Finance.

There were 17,000 pills in total and they were sent through a package delivery service. The case has been handed over to prosecutors for investigation and customs warned the public to be wary of low-priced pharmaceuticals to avoid spending money on something which could harm your body.

The pills were stored loose in boxes without any original packaging by the manufacturer and appeared rather crude in appearance.

From January to April of this year customs has intercepted around 100,000 imitation pharmaceuticals, including fake Viagra pills and diet pills, and the cases have been referred to prosecutors for investigation.

Customs stated that importing imitation or banned drugs is a violation of both the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act and the Trademark Act.

The punishment for manufacturing or importing counterfeit or prohibited drugs under the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act is imprisonment for a period of up to ten years and a fine of up to NT$100 million (US$3 million) (Article 82). If deaths are negative health effects occur, the penalty is stiffer. Under the Trademark Act, anyone who sells or possesses goods that infringe the trademark of another person with intent to sell is liable to a prison sentence of up to year and a fine of up to NT$50,000 (US$1,518) (Article 97).


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