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June 26, 2017

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E Ink Holdings signs patent licensing deal with China's BOE Technology

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- E Ink Holdings Inc.'s (元太科技) Korean subsidiary Hydis Technology has recently signed a patent licensing agreement with China's largest flat panel supplier BOE Technology Group Co. (京東方).

E Ink Holdings said on Wednesday that under the agreement, Hydis will license its fringe field switching (FFS) technology to BOE.

According to the Central News Agency (CNA), the FFS technology enables wider viewing angles on screens and has become a standard technology for tablet computers.

CNA reported that E Ink did not disclose the details of the patent licensing agreement between BOE and Hydis, which is wholly owned by the Taiwanese e-paper supplier.

Market analysts said the move to license the FF S technology has become one of E Ink's major income sources from its non-core business.

In addition to BOE, other flat panel suppliers, such as Japan's Sharp Corp., and Taiwan's AU Optronics Corp. (友達光電), Innolux Corp. (群創光電) and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. (中華映管) have teamed up with E Ink in FFS patent licensing. Its screen technology can also be extensively found on the Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Sony readers.

The dedicated e-reader market is shrinking and the companies heavily invested in this space are diminished from the boom period of 2011 and 2012. E Ink is the primary player in this sector, with the company is still heavily invested in the e-paper space, with 80 percent of its revenue still deriving from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo.

Horizon Securities analyst Stanley Hsu said shipments of e-book devices reached a peak of 20 million units in 2012 and then fell to 16 million units in 2013.

The company's Chief Financial Officer Eddie Chen recently told investors that E Ink's revenue is expected to plunge 10 percent on the first-quarter earnings call.

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