HP sets up tech licensing center in Asia

The center extends a helping hand to Asian technology companies by allowing them to license HP's intellectual property.

SINGAPORE--Hewlett-Packard has launched its second intellectual property (IP) licensing center, this time in Singapore to help Asian businesses gain a head start.

According to Tan Lee Chew, managing director of HP Southeast Asia, the new Asia-Pacific licensing center can help Asian businesses leapfrog others in the technology sector, with HP's expertise.

For now, the licensing center is focused on developing technology licensing agreements in China, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. But Tan said the company will extend licensing to other Asian countries, if business needs arise.

HP's first IP licensing center is in Palo Alto, Calif.

Asian companies can now work with the new center to license HP's brand, patents, trademarks, and copyright in technology areas. These include consumer electronics and emerging technologies such as fuel cells, semiconductors, networking, storage and software.

Lim Eng Hann, the licensing center's associate director, noted that HP's licensing agreements in the region would focus mainly on branding and technology.

In brand licensing, companies can tag the HP brand on their own products, such as PC accessories and optical media, Lim said. HP has audit processes to ensure those products meet quality requirements.

Technology licensing involves licensing HP's technology wholesale to device manufacturers. So far, HP has already signed up its first Asia-Pacific client--Prodigy Labs.

India-based Prodigy Labs will license HP's gesture-based keyboard technology. Such keyboards enable users to create text using phonetic scripts, rather than Roman alphabets.

Lim said: "One of the reasons why SMS (short message service) has not taken off quickly in India is because people have problems with alphanumeric input." Gesture-based keyboards will let cellphone users enter text in Indic script.

However, there are some restrictions if a company wants to license HP's bread and butter technologies.

For example, HP's inkjet printing technology, which may also be used to apply small droplets of medication, cannot be used by licensees to manufacture printers, according to Ilja Bedner, HP's chief technology officer of IP licensing.

Revenue generator
Besides giving Asian businesses a helping hand, HP also hopes to derive additional revenues through licensing.

Bedner said: "Licensing will create additional revenues outside traditional products and services. It's also a great way for us to get return on investments in research and development."

HP started its licensing group in January 2003, and has seen its returns from licensing quadruple from US$50 million to US$200 million in three years.

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