Agilent Seeks Access to Divested Varian Technology

Washington, DC 3/30/18—Agilent Technologies has submitted an application to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), requesting approval for a cross-license agreement that would allow the company use of ICP-MS intellectual property that it lost access to as part of gaining FTC approval to buy Varian (see IBO 7/31/09).

Agilent sold Varian’s ICP-MS business to Bruker in 2010 (see IBO 3/15/10). Although Agilent retained certain ICP-MS intellectual property, it was required to grant a irrevocable, royalty-free license to Bruker and not use technology for ICP-MS, only for ICP-OES. Bruker sold the product line to Analytik Jena acquired the product line in  2014 (see IBO 8/15/14).

Agilent proposes in the request to license its ICP-OES technology to Analytik Jena in exchange for a license to the ICP-MS technology with no financial commitment. The cross-license would be non-exclusive and non-sublicensable.

The specific patents listed in the request are Agilent US Patent No. 7,852,471 (“Power Generator for Spectrometry”), which covers the so-called Hosemans solid-state RF (SSRF) generator, an alternative to vacuum tube systems. As described in Agilent’s request, SSRF generators are smaller, do not require routine maintenance and have a lower cost of goods.

Agilent argues in the request that the cross-license would benefit both companies and not threaten competition. The public comment period for the proposal is opened for 30 days.

The unique arrangement would allow each company to develop new products for ICP-OES and ICP-MS, both markets they currently participate in. Other companies offering both technologies are Hitachi High-Technologies, PerkinElmer, Shimadzu, SPECTRO Analytical Instruments (AMETEK) and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

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