Sony Acquires IPIX Assets

A document released today by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Knoxville, Tenn., and provided to by the Knoxville News Sentinel indicates that the "anonymous national blue chip" that was reported to have acquired IPIX intellectual property is none other than Sony Corporation.

The bidding at the bankruptcy court on Jan. 19, 2007, left many wondering who the acquiring company was, as they were represented only by bankruptcy lawyer Robert Gephard, a partner with the law firm Sedgwick, Detert, Moran and Arnold out of San Francisco. Gephard did not disclose the name of his client at the time, citing concerns of patent litigation. A signature on the final asset purchase agreement was signed by Fumihiko Moriya, senior general manager of Sony Corporation's intellectual property division.

The purchase of IPIX's technology, including the previously mentioned gigapixel camera brings situational awareness software and camera technology to Sony, which has recently launched its own line of cameras and systems that offer video analytics. While it's too early to say exactly how the IPIX technology will fit into the Sony line-up, speculation is that the IPIX "immersive imaging" will fit into the situational awareness that Sony has been developing with its DEPA product line (see our webinar on Sony's IPELA and DEPA technologies from October 2006).

Security industry analyst Steve Hunt, well known for his market research through 4A International, said the move makes a lot of sense.

"The IPIX technology is going to be worth a thousands time more to Sony Corporation than it ever could have been to IPIX," said Hunt. "Sony is a company made up of engineers, and they make their money not only from their own branded products, but the biggest part of their revenue comes from all of the Sony components that they sell that other people put in their products. So the IPIX technology could appear in a number of cameras, processor, TVs and high-end video equipment. It could go in a thousand places once you rip it apart for its parts."

Hunt added that the problem IPIX faced was that it had the technology tied in with a proprietary camera sold as a standalone system.

"They didn't have the right partnerships," said Hunt, "and they didn't play the game right, such as playing nice with other video management systems. Their sales channel also didn't work. You have to make your product available in a way that customers want to buy it, and they didn't succeed in creating that successful sales channel."

The purchase price for the core IPIX intellectual property was $3.6 million.

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