“Liquidmetal Technologies Inc. (LQMT) has been betting on partnerships with Apple Inc. and Swatch Group AG. It hasn’t paid off yet,” Jan Schwalbe and Corinne Gretler report for Bloomberg. “The company developed a metal that’s moldable like plastic and has formed perpetual exclusivity agreements with Apple for consumer electronics products, and with Swatch for watches. While Liquidmetal has succeeded in being included in some of Swatch’s products, the Rancho Santa Margarita, California-based company is still waiting for a big break with Apple.”
“When the Apple Watch was presented on Sept. 9, Liquidmetal’s shares plunged 26 percent, the most since July 2013, because Apple didn’t say whether Liquidmetal’s technology would be incorporated in its new products. The two exclusivity agreements could spell further trouble, as the royalty-based license with Swatch for watches hinders any use in products such as an Apple Watch,” Schwalbe and Gretler report. “‘I suspect a third-party company would have to come to a legal agreement with Liquidmetal and Swatch before it could use Liquidmetal technology for a watch,’ said Rene Weber, an analyst at Bank Vontobel AG in Zurich. ‘In this area, Swatch certainly has a strong position.'”
“In May, the company extended an agreement with Cupertino, California-based Apple through February that provides the company financial and legal support for the filing of patents,” Schwalbe and Gretler report. “Liquidmetal also in May reached an agreement to settle a dispute with contract manufacturer Visser Precision Cast LLC, allowing the company to form more licenses to produce the material.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Note: The Apple-Liquidmetal deal is basically this: Apple contributes engineers and R&D – basically figuring out how to practically make Liquidmetal into commercial parts – and contributes their inventions back to Liquidmetal (via Crucible Intellectual Property, LLC, a Liquidmetal subsidiary) which gets to use Apple’s inventions in fields other than consumer electronics (sporting goods, aviation, medical, military, etc.). With an already-paid one-time license fee of US$20 million, Apple owns sole rights to use Liquidmetal in electronics forever via “a perpetual, worldwide, fully-paid, exclusive license to commercialize such intellectual property in the field of consumer electronic products.” Whenever it is reported that Apple and Liquidmetal have extend their agreement, it refers to Apple and Liquidmetal lengthening the amount of time where both companies share IP with each other via Crucible.
Apple’s new Liquidmetal-related patent sparks speculation – July 7, 2014
Apple patents method for embedding sapphire displays in LiquidMetal device chassis – May 27, 2014
Liquidmetal-Visser agreement paves the way for more rapid adoption of amorphous metal manufacturing – May 21, 2014
Apple extends Liquidmetal exclusivity deal through February 2015 – May 21, 2014
Apple granted Liquidmetal patent for hollow structures in possible future product designs – April 23, 2014
Time for Liquidmetal? Claimed leaked photos of Apple’s ‘iPhone 6′ show crazy thin device – April 1, 2014
17 new Apple patent applications detail Liquidmetal alloy use in device buttons, touch sensors, and more – January 14, 2014
Apple patent application reveals sapphire flexible transparent display devices created with Liquidmetal – December 19, 2013
Apple files five Liquidmetal patent applications – November 22, 2013
Four new Apple Liquidmetal-related patents revealed in Europe – September 26, 2013
Apple patent application reveals methods of forming 3D structures with Liquidmetal – July 25, 2013
Apple and Liquidmetal scientists granted new patent that could enable Liquidmetal production on a massive scale – July 16, 2013
Apple patent application reveals new machinery for creating Liquidmetal forms – January 31, 2013
Liquidmetal ships first amorphous alloy production parts – November 16, 2012
Liquidmetal Technologies Inc. and Materion announce sales channel collaboration – September 7, 2012
Futuristic Liquidmetal alloy could transform Apple products – August 15, 2012
Why did Apple lock in Liquidmetal for two more years? – June 25, 2012
New Apple agreement suggests Liquidmetal iPhone will arrive within two years – June 20, 2012
Apple extends Liquidmetal exclusivity deal through February 2014 – June 19, 2012
Why is Apple investing in equipment and machinery at an exponential rate? – May 23, 2012
Apple’s recent huge investments in plants and equipment for Liquidmetal use in iOS devices, Macs? – May 22, 2012
Apple patent app details new, possibly Liquidmetal-based speakerphone system for iOS devices – May 17, 2012
Apple and Liquidmetal: Don’t go by co-inventor’s word, he hasn’t worked for Liquidmetal since 2007 – May 6, 2012
Liquidmetal inventor: Apple will use it in a ‘breakthrough product’ that will be very difficult to copy – May 2, 2012
Whoa! This Liquidmetal iPhone 5 concept looks real – May 2, 2012
Check out these ultra-thin next-gen Liquidmetal iPhone artist’s concept images – May 1, 2012
Is Apple Inc.’s bet on Liquidmetal about to pay off? – April 30, 2012
Liquidmetal Technologies filing outlines its multimillion dollar agreement with Apple – March 31, 2012
Apple granted its first Liquidmetal patent – January 5, 2011
Apple patent application describes scratch-resistant stainless steel – October 29, 2010
Join the dots on six future Apple technologies – September 22, 2010
Apple already using Liquidmetal in their… – August 17, 2010
Inventor says Liquidmetal may be used for new iPhone antenna – August 13, 2010
How will Apple use their exclusive Liquidmetal alloy? – August 12, 2010
Apple’s exclusive Liquidmetal pact could see future Apple products encased in metallic glass – August 11, 2010
Apple inks deal for exclusive rights to custom, super-durable metal alloy – August 09, 2010
Where’s the line between a watch and a wrist-mounted consumer electronic device?
Probably somewhere in judge Koh’s courtroom.
I guess it can be argued that a watch isn’t a consumer electronic device as it is mechanical in nature, unless of course it’s a digital watch and/or the license to Swatch provided for the eventuality of smart watches.
Swatch’s agreement is not perpetual. It is only through March 2015.
And it probably never will. The perfect culmination of their work would’ve been iPhone 6 and they couldn’t get it done. These Liquidmetal fantasies are dead in the water.
For now, they are certainly dead since metals from which LM alloy consists of are five times pricier than aluminium. Also, the alloy itself is more expensive to make as it requires more energy to make — all clusters of crystalline metal have to be melted to make the alloy uniformly amorphous (unlike regular metals and allows where are many of such clusters and no one cares).
Perhaps it’s not for the iPHone or watch after all…. Maybe it’s for the “new” rumored 12″ MB?
Visser could be the big problem. It had IP that was needed to produce Liquidmetal. The agreement ended what could have been a nasty court battle if Apple had used it. One that Apple didn’t think it could win. Everyone is expecting some showy thing, like a back panel. I think they will use them in chips first. Apple would only need to use a small amount to give them a big advantage in producing small powerful chips that no one else will have. It could be how the new Apple Watch all-in-one chip is made. This could also be part of the delay in making it. 2015 may be when the agreement kicks in.
I find this to be a low IQ article and that purposely conflates a mechanical movement self-winding watch with a wrist mounted computer. It is a simultaneous insult to both Omega (Swatch) and to the Apple engineers. Personally I would like to get a waterproof housing for the iWatch to trigger the iPhone camera in its waterproof case, but for safety, I would also need my Omega Seamaster Diver 300M, on my other wrist as back up… and my shark spray.
If you watch LQMT presentation at Liolios Group Gateway Conference – you can get the link in the investors section on Liquidmetal’s website – you will see non-visser machines in the video – the same big green machines that do the plastic injection molding for the iPhone 5c (PIM).
Listen specifically when the presenter explains MIM (metal injection molding) versus Liquidmetal Injection, which has much less mold shrinkage and what kind of parts are best left to MIM and complex parts that are best for the liquid metal process.
Then watch the Apple Watch presentation and read everything about the digital crown of the watch. Now guess which part of the iWatch is most probably to be Liquidmetal. Omega uses Liquidmetal for “cosmetic” reasons so that the numbers on the bezel will never fade because of human touch. The ceramic bezel is bonded to the liquid metal numbers. The iWatch digital crown appears to have translucent parts bonded to the metal and the home button inside the crown, that sense finger movement, so one can scroll and zoom with an index finger touching the crown rather than using an index finger and thumb movement to actually wind the crown, which would be tiring and lead to repetitive motion injuries. If any problem would be solved best by liquidemetal versus MIM for mass production, it is a small precision part like the crown, not a phone casing.
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