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WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate is expected to debate the patent reform bill as early as this week. This comes on the heels of a court decision to block new rules the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office proposed to deal with the surge of applications.
 
Majority leader Sen. Harry Reid is expected to bring the Patent Reform Act to the Senate between now and the end of May.
 
The Senate bill is in line with the House of Representatives bill that passed in the fall. Both bills aim to limit damages and excessive litigation, namely courts that are quick to set trial dates for patent suits. The legislation also requests the U.S. to move to a first-to-file policy.
 
Many large electronics firms are on board, claiming to be barraged with patent infringement litigation. Individual inventors and pharmaceutical companies have rallied against the measure, saying it would weaken the system that protects their innovations.
 
In its fiscal year 2007, the USPTO received more than 467,000 patent applications and ended the year with a backlog of 760,000 applications. In an effort to catch up, the office hired more than 2,400 new patent examiners in the past two years, say published reports.
SHANGHAI – Nepcon China opened today with strong crowds and plenty of noise, as usual. The show, many watchers agree, needs a strong showing this year to fend off a challenge from the producers of Productronica, who are mounting a challenge to Nepcon’s longstanding supremacy in the Shanghai electronics market.

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TAIPEI – Chairman of the Hon Hai Group, Terry Gou, said his group will invest in a planned software industrial park in Kaohsung, Taiwan at the urging of president-elect Ma Ying-jeou.

Ying-jeou suggested Gou lead high-tech enterprises in northern Taiwan to invest in the planned industrial park in the south, and reportedly, Gou is willing to comply.

Gou also pledged to export products to Europe and the U.S. from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, instead of Vietnam, say published reports.

In addition, Ying-jeou asked Gou to expand investments in Taiwan and upgrade its Taiwanese headquarters for global operation, while leading public welfare service.

Gou said his firm has long revolved around northern Taiwan, with the south being uncharted territory. Recently, Hon Hai has opened plants in India and Nanjing, China.

The group has begun to evaluate investments to devise projects before May 20, when Ying-jeou will become president of the Republic of China.

BURLINGTON, VT – The world's largest 50 EMS providers grew an average 16.7% in 2007, according to a new study. The top 50's sales totaled $141.3 billion, a new high, says John Tuck of Manufacturing Market Insider.
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SCOTTSDALE, AZ – The optoelectronics, sensors/actuators, and discrete markets account for about 15% of total semiconductor revenues, and their combined revenues are increasing at a CAGR of 13% per year between 2002 and 2012, says IC Insights.
 
By 2012, total O-S-D sales are expected to exceed $66 billion, up from $38 billion in 2007, according to the firm’s forecast.
 
The $256 billion semiconductor universe consists of ICs and (O-S-D) components, says IC Insights.
 
The O-S-D market plays a vital role in the overall health and advancement of the semiconductor and electronic systems industries. Some of the industry's fastest growing product categories and manufacturing technologies are CMOS image sensors, MEMS-based sensors/actuators, laser transmission devices, high-brightness LEDs, microphone chips, fingerprint sensors, and new power transistors used in portable electronics, power supplies, and automotive electronics. After lagging IC market growth in the 1980s and most of the 1990s, O-S-D revenues began increasing at a stronger rate 10 years ago, says IC Insights.
NEEHAH, WI – Electronics manufacturer Plexus Corp. has leased two new facilities in Chicago and San Jose, CA.
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STAMFORD, CTGartner Inc. forecasts a 7% sequential decline for first-quarter semiconductor sales, and says growth prospects for 2008 will hinge largely on the second quarter.

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BEDFORD, UK – Briton EMS has expanded into a plant that is double the size of its Caxton Park manufacturing site, and added an SMT line to meet growing demand. 

The expanded site is now 22,000 sq. ft.

The new line includes a Speedprint stencil printer, Mydata MY19E placement machine, a Heller oven and Nutek handlers.
WAKE FOREST, NC – SMT Resource Group has moved its technical center and warehouse into a former Flextronics manufacturing building in Youngsville. 

The site provides additional space, plus room for SMT equipment restoration, testing and demos. 

SMTR plans to set up two fully operational lines in a separate secure area for “time share” use by small manufacturers.

SMTR will consolidate its facilities in Temple, TX, and Wake Forest, NC, into the new site.

 

CAPE TOWN, AFRICA – The SMART Group South Africa will host a series of seminars on manufacturing process improvement this month, and is offering free slots to students in South African University’s electronics departments.

The seminars feature top speakers from Europe and the US, including Circuits Assembly columnist Phil Zarrow, and will take place April 21 in Stellenbosch, April 22-23 in Midrand, and April 24 in Durban.

In a press release, chairman Steve Eglinton said, “A key aim of SMART Group SA is to educate and improve the knowledge of our electronics engineers, and this is a great way of reaching the people who will shape the future of the electronics industry within South Africa.” 
NATICK, MA – Cognex Corp. will host a series of free machine vision seminars for manufacturers.
 
The half-day event showcases vision system setup and deployment for automated inspection in automotive, medical and electronics applications, among others.
 
Each seminar combines a machine vision basics tutorial with live vision system demonstrations for setting up a machine vision application with EasyBuilder software for In-Sight vision systems. The tutorial covers how vision sensors work in manufacturing applications to gauge, guide, identify and inspect products.
 
The seminars run from April through June in cities throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. To register, visit http://www.cognex.com/microseminars.
 
 
 
LAS VEGASiNEMI is organizing several new efforts to help industry collaboratively address common challenges. Among the new projects scheduled for launch this spring are Pb-Free Alloy Alternatives, Pb-Free Early Failure, Boundary Scan Adoption and Solder Paste Deposition.

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