MIPS moves to China via Samoa

August 28, 2020 //By Peter Clarke
China takes control of MIPS via Samoa
Despite attempts by the US government to block the sale of RISC processor pioneer MIPS overseas, the core technology has been licensed to, and is now being controlled by, a Shanghai-based company, according to a Reuters report.

In 2017 MIPS was bought by Tallwood Ventures to keep the technology in the US, as part of the conditions put on the sale of owner Imagination to equity fund Canyon Bridge. At the time, and subsequently, such deals were increasingly coming under the scrutiny of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

However, a series of transfers detailed by Reuters has seen the MIPS technology moved multiple times and then licensed to a Samoan company called Prestige Century Investments and that license then reassigned on to a wholly-owned subsidiary CIP United Co. Ltd. registered in Shanghai, China. As a result, CIP controls the MIPS licensing rights for all new and existing customers in China, Hong Kong and Macau, and the right to develop new derivative technologies based on the MIPS architecture.

One of the key people in the complex series of transfers is Diosdado Banatao, the Filipino engineer and entrepreneur who made his fortune by co-founding such companies as Chips & Technologies and S3 Graphics in the 1980s.

Banatao went on to found Tallwood Venture Capital in 2000 and it was Tallwood that acquired MIPS when it was made a condition of the sale of Imagination. Tallwood sold MIPS on to Wave Computing Inc., a company founded in 2009 and in which Tallwood was a major shareholder.

Then MIPS Technologies International Ltd., registered in the Cayman Islands, was created as an overseas subsidiary of Wave Computing to house the MIPS patent portfolio and licensing business. It was this entity that cut the deal with Samoan registered Prestige.

The details of the MIPS licensing deal and the complex transactions were revealed in U.S. bankruptcy proceedings of Wave Computing Inc. That bankruptcy now leaves the MIPS technology, once so important, effectively orphaned and in the hands of the Chinese.

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Reuters account

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