Contributed by Michael Spence
On December 1, 2014, Cypress Semiconductor Corporation and Spansion Inc. announced an agreement to merge their operations, citing a variety of synergies between the two organizations.
From a business perspective, their products are remarkably complimentary. Cypress is a leader in SRAM, while Spansion dominates in embedded, non-volatile NOR flash memory. Both sell into consumer, mobile handsets, computation, communications, automotive, and industrial markets. “This merger represents the combination of two smart, profitable, passionately entrepreneurial companies that are No. 1 in their respective memory markets and have successfully diversified into embedded processing,” said T.J. Rodgers, Cypress’ founding president and CEO. 
What did this merger/acquisition mean from a patent perspective? Using patent analytics tools, Chipworks' staff took a look at the patent portfolios from both historical and technology segment perspectives. Cypress and Spansion patent portfolios are very comparable in size at 2,300 patent assets for Cypress and 2,600 for Spansion (our definition of assets includes granted patents and published patent applications). In addition, their historical portfolio build is very similar – starting in 1996 and growing to a publication count of over 200 annually by 2014.
We used KMX, a patent analytics and visualization tool, to develop a quick understanding of the overlap between Cypress’ and Spansion’s portfolios from a technology standpoint. Learn more about KMX Patent Analytics.
In this representation, each dot is a patent, and patents with similar text are grouped together. Topographical peaks denote key technology concepts, where the top 3 words per 100 are shown. Both portfolios are mixed together, painted by their corporate colors. The depth of technology flows across the map, with lowest level semiconductor fabrication on the left. Moving right, the technologies shift upwards into memories, then circuits, and then applications such as touch and communications. The shape of the landscape is determined by the tool, based on the text input and user settings.
Cypress and Spansion have quite a bit of overlap in the semiconductor fabrication and memory circuits technology areas, but Spansion dominates in these arenas. Conversely, Cypress’ innovation in touch sensing and communications is not matched by similar patents of Spansion's.