November 27, 2007 – Entrepix, a provider of chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) services, has signed a licensing deal to manufacture, sell, and service Rudolph Technologies’ AutoEL microprocessor-based thin-film ellipsometers on a global basis (except Japan, where Rudolph KK has a existing agreement with another party). Transfer of assets and inventory will be completed sometime in 4Q07; all future inquiries into the product will now be redirected to Entrepix.
A rep for Entrepix confirmed that the company is purchasing all physical assets of the AutoEL line including inventory, such that it is now the OEM for all aspects of the product: new systems, sales, service, refurbishment, spare parts, development of technology upgrades, etc. Rudolph continues to own the existing AutoEL IP and trademark and will receive a licensing fee, but has no further involvement in the product going forward.
In an exclusive interview with WaferNEWS, Rudolph execs explained that roughly 80% of customers for the small tabletop units are in academia (a few units were later built to accommodate 300mm), and the company needs to focus its R&D resources on higher-end (and higher-margin) products geared toward fab production lines, like its S series. Entrepix had been a partner for many years, and “they have a direction for where they’d like to take the product from here,” though it could mean upgrading 30-year old technology with lots of discrete components, noted Bob Rametta, Rudolph’s senior manager of customer support operations.
Rudolph reps reiterated that the deal “is a license, not an acquisition,” mainly to keep the AutoEL brand recognition intact. The two companies “looked at a couple of possibilities” to structure the deal, and eventually decided that “licensing was the way to go,” noted Bob DiCrosta, Rudolph VP of global customer support.