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<p> The transition to larger diameter wafers in LED production has started. Earlier in 2010, Rubicon announced that the company entered into a $71 million agreement with a major LED chip manufacturer for which Rubicon will provide six-inch polished substrates. Companies such as Philips Lumiled and Lextar Electronics have announced six-inch production of LED wafers built on sapphire.</p>

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With shipments declining 7.3 percent from the third quarter, Intel's fourth quarter market share in graphics chips slipped to 52.5 percent from 55.2 percent, according to the research firm. Meanwhile, AMD's market share improved to 24.2 percent from 23 percent and Nvidia's increased to 22.5 percent from 21 percent, the firm said.

Overall, shipments of graphics devices for 2010 came in below expectations, growing just 4.3 percent for the year, according to JPR  (Tiburon, Calif.). Intel's shipment decline in the fourth quarter didn't help, the firm said.

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JPR said the relatively poor performance of graphics chip shipments in the fourth quarter does not bode well for PC shipments, which analysts have projected should grow 15 to 17 percent this year. Graphics chips are a leading indicator for PC sales as a sell-in part, and lackluster sales of graphics are a bad-news bellwether for the PC industry, according to JPR.

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Photomask maker Photronics Inc. said sales for the first quarter were $120.8 million, an increase of 23 percent compared to $98.2 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2010.

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GAAP net income attributable to Photronics for the first quarter of fiscal year 2011 was $12.1 million, or $0.20 earnings per diluted share, compared to $0.2 million, or $0.00 earnings per diluted share for the first quarter of fiscal 2010.

Sales of semiconductor photomasks accounted for $88.8 million, or 73.5 percent of revenues during the first quarter of fiscal 2011, and sales of flat panel display (FPD) photomasks accounted for $32.0 million, or 26.5 percent of revenues.

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The company beat Wall Street's estimates. It was supposed to earn $0.13 on sales of $111.71 million for the quarter, according to Zacks. For Q2, it is expected to earn $0.13 on sales of $115.53 million.

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Samsung Fine Chemicals (SFC) and MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. have announced a joint venture agreement between SFC and MEMC's affiliate, MEMC Singapore, to produce high purity polysilicon in Ulsan, Korea.

The draft bill also aims to change to post-grant review process, provide for a so-called inter partes review and redefine willful infringement. In addition, it aims to help the U.S. patent office retain more of its fees.

An array of companies and lobbying groups in the electronics industry has taken opposing stances on the draft bill. The Senate's draft bill has the support of the National Association of Manufacturers, the United Steelworkers, the National Venture Capital Association and the American Association of Universities.

Some claim the patent reform legislation fails to address the key issues. Congress should focus on policies to reduce the 34 month backlog at the [patent office], thereby creating new jobs that are currently stuck on the shelves waiting for action,” said Brian Pomper, executive director of the Innovation Alliance which includes members such as Qualcomm and Tessera.

Adequately staffing and resourcing the [patent office] would be the single best patent based step to encourage economic innovation and job creation at time when more of both is sorely needed,” Pomper said in a press statement. Any legislative approach which leads to less certainty about patents or reduces the value of American patents would be a step backward,” he said.

The Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform –a lobbying group with more than 50 members including 3M, General Electric and Texas Instruments—said it supports the bill. This legislation will ensure our nation’s patent system will promptly provide inventors with high quality patents and protections needed to spur innovation, develop new products, and create jobs,” said Bill Mashek, the group's president in a press statement.