Apple has been a substantial licensor of Imagination graphics IP. Imagination has said that a deal with Apple first announced on February 6, 2014, has been replaced with a new multi-year license agreement under which Apple has access to a wider range of Imagination’s intellectual property in exchange for license fees.
Imagination also offers compute, vision, artificial intelligence and connectivity IP but did not state what portfolio of IP Apple would be accessing.
Nor was the potential size of license fees to come disclosed but would likely be worth hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of a multi-year agreement. That would be case even if the gradual decline of iPhone and iPad unit shipments continued.
Back in 2017 Apple created its own GPU design team, based in part on former Imagination staff, and denied that it would need to pay license fees to Imagination (see Apple hires group of UK GPU engineers). This was instrumental in the collapse of Imagination and its eventual sale to Canyon Bridge Capital Partners LLC (Palo, Alto, Calif.), a venture capital firm that is managing funds provided by China (see Imagination, MIPS to be sold to China-, California-connected VCs).
However, in 2018 eeNews Europe reported that the two companies were not in dispute and speculated that Apple had probably agreed to continue paying license fees but had possibly driven a hard renegotiation while Imagination had been preoccupied with ensuring its own survival (see How much did Apple pay to settle with Imagination?).
Next: License to thrill
Apple has been the major licensee of GPU cores from Imagination through most of the millennium and during that time has bailed the company out by buying stock to maintain its supply of leading edge graphics.
However, in March 2016 eeNews Europe broke the story that Apple was hiring swathes of former Imagination employees in the UK with a clear intention to take GPU development in-house. Within days of the story appearing Imagination announced that it has been notified by Apple, its largest customer, of a winding down of licensing. Subsequently there was some posturing by both companies on whether Apple needed to license IP from Imagination or not.
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