30 January 2004 Boulder, CO -- Back in November 2003 Picolight Inc., a supplier of VCSEL-based transceivers and VCSEL subassemblies, signed a cross-licensing agreement with Honeywell VCSEL Optical Products for laser-related intellectual property. Despite the fact that Finisar just purchased the Honeywell business line, Picolight won't lose sleep over the fact that a direct competitor now has a license for its technology.
According to Warner Andrews, vice president of marketing at Picolight, the agreement was designed to reassure customers that they could rely on an uninterrupted supply of products based on "oxide-confined" VCSELs from the company, despite the fact that Picolight and Honeywell had potentially competing patents on aspects of the technology. The licensing agreement -- which applies to four Picolight patents and one Honeywell patent for oxide-confined technology -- achieves that end despite Finisar's purchase of the Honeywell assets, Andrews says.
Andrews also indicates that he was not particularly concerned about the fact that a competitor in the transceiver field would have access to the Picolight patents. Picolight could still create significant differentiation of its products from any Finisar might develop using the patents, he asserts.
The oxide-confined technology refers to a method by which the light generated within the VCSEL structure can be focused into a useful linewidth.
"This cross-license agreement strengthens Picolight's position as a leader in oxide VCSEL transceivers and components," said Jack Jewell, chief technology officer for Picolight, in a press release issued yesterday. "The oxide-confined VCSEL enabled adoption of VCSELs throughout enterprise networks for multi-gigabit applications. And the same technology is key to our new 1310-nm VCSEL transceivers that extend the benefits of enterprise optics to campus, storage network, metro-access, and optical Ethernet networks."
Picolight has used oxide confinement in the design of VCSEL-based transceivers that support a variety of data rates. The company also sells VCSEL subassemblies based on the technology. Andrews says that Finisar's acquisition of the Honeywell business, which focused on VCSEL subassemblies, may lead transceiver vendors who had previously relied on Honeywell to rethink their supply lines. Such second thoughts might create opportunities for Picolight, Andrews believes.
The company will demonstrate 850- and 1300-nm transceivers based on the oxide-confined VCSEL technology at OFC next month.
-- S. Hardy