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SanDisk Acquires Patents, Staff From Flash Memory Firm Invox.

SanDisk Corp has acquired the patent portfolio of Invox Technology Inc, a privately-held voice storage products company based in Campbell, California. Under terms that haven't been disclosed, Sunnyvale, California-based SanDisk gets control of 19 patents issued or allowed, and another 28 pending patent applications, most of them in SanDisk's core area of flash memory storage.

Invox has been describing itself as a pre-IPO start-up. It was founded in 1996 by executives from Altera Corp, including CEO Bipin Shah, chief technology officer Sau Wong, vice president of technology James Sansbury and board member Paul Newhagen. The company had around 25 employees, and had raised some $8m in funding. It had been shipping voice recording and playback chips for voicemail since 1998. Some staff, including CEO Shah, were still at Invox's office on Monday, but a spokesperson said the company wouldn't be continuing with its current business.

SanDisk already holds over 100 patents relating to flash memory. It says it believes that Invox's patents, which include "valuable multilevel flash memory concepts" may become useful in the future development of ultra high capacity flash memory chips.

As part of the deal, SanDisk also hired a few technical design professionals from Invox, including vice president of engineering Geoff Gongwer. Gongwer has spent 20 years working on non-volatile memories, including stints at Intel Corp and Atmel Corp, and becomes program director of a dedicated team at SanDisk working on future gigabit capacity flash memory chips.
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Publication:Computergram International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 5, 1999
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