Nanoco Group (NANO.L) – Patent Litigation – Multibagger Upside

Current Price: £0.52

Target Price: £1.25 – £3.00

Upside: 2x – 6x

Expiration Date: TBD

This idea was shared by Alan.


Nanoco’s investment thesis is based on a patent infringement case that Nanoco has brought against Samsung – a multi-bagger upside if the lawsuit works out and 80-90% downside if the litigation fails. Nanoco Group is listed on LSE. Nanoco Group is listed on LSE. The US trial is expected to start at the beginning of October (having been pushed back from the 12th of September, the actual date is to be confirmed). Arguably the most interesting period for risk/reward is pre-trial so this idea is very timely. Nanoco’s operational business is the research, development, & production / licensing of nanomaterials for use in commercial applications – however, they have not yet secured any production / licensing for a live product, hence minimal revenue and minimal value in case the litigation fails. The focus of this thesis is on the legal case against Samsung.

Background of the dispute with Samsung

Nanoco was formed from a university research group (from the University of Manchester, in England), and has been researching nanoparticle and quantum dot technology for a long time, with the research & manufacturing headquarters being established in 2001.

Nanoco developed quantum dots for display purposes (e.g. high-end premium TV’s), which were importantly free from heavy metals which bring health risks such as cadmium. The quantum dots are referred to as cadmium-free quantum dots (CFQD). Importantly they also developed a method to scale up from lab to volume production.

Back in 2010 Samsung engaged with Nanoco to evaluate the quantum dot technology, and was provided samples by Nanoco. Samsung did not license the technology but went on to debut a TV with quantum dots at Consumer Electronics Show 2015. Further Samsung launched a TV with cadmium-free quantum dots in 2017 branded “QLED”. Nanoco believes Samsung has wilfully infringed a number of patents in the production of their QLED TV’s.

This 2017 article by Samsung, declares the development of CFQD technology for QLED TV’s as a breakthrough achievement by Samsung, crediting Dr Eunjoo Jang as the architect behind it.

However, you can see in this email from 2006 Dr. Jang asked Nanoco about their cadmium-free quantum dots – this is taken from the IPR materials, but there are many public documents from the PTAB IPR and the ongoing Trial available to review.

Some additional details can be found in this VIC write-up here. One important extra note from there is that Samsung does have a history of paying large awards for patent infringements:

Samsung has a long history of patent infringements, with a few examples being Acorn Technologies ($25m award for infringing 4 semiconductor patents), Solas OLED ($63m award for infringing 2 patents for OLED displays), and of course Apple ($539m award for copying smartphone features).

Legal progress in the US

Key steps achieved so far in the US legal process are as follows. NANO obtained legal funding such that they can pursue the case, even though they have limited cash resources. The funder is not disclosed but presumably would have done significant due diligence before agreeing to back the case. The funder will take a cut if successful, which would leave Nanoco with 50% of a modest trial award, and up to 80% of a larger award.

Trial process:

  • Feb. 2020 – filed complaint in the Eastern District of Texas (can follow the case on PACER, with CIVIL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 2:20-cv-00038-JRG).
  • Mar. 2021 – Markman hearing, Nanoco won 4 of 5 patents.
  • August 2022 – Samsung attempted to change the court-agreed definition of a Molecular Cluster Compound (MCC), and this was rejected.
  • Trial stayed while IPR at PTAB is held (see below), the positive PTAB outcome showing the validity of the patents allows the Trial to focus on the alleged wilful infringement and damages.
  • Aug. 2022 – Pre-Trial conference held, Nanoco damages models & expert testimony preserved. Nanoco has focused the trial strategy on green quantum dots, hence judge has agreed to issue a summary judgment of non-infringement with regard to red quantum dots.

Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) process:

  • May 2021 – Inter partes review (IPR) instituted to determine the validity of 47 claims within the 5 patents.
  • May 2022 – PTAB ruled in Nanoco’s favor in respect of all 47 claims. This was a very positive step, confirming the validity of the patents.
  • Note that Samsung is appealing the PTAB outcome, however, this is not delaying the trial going ahead.

The PTAB outcome was a material positive (shares traded at c. 27p prior to outcome being announced, having been closer to 20p when the PTAB oral hearing was heard in February 2022), and along with further positive updates (legal rejection of change to MCC definition, work package for European customer, oversubscribed fundraise), have given the shares momentum to now stand at c. 48p.

The trial is expected to start on the 3rd of October and should take one week. The jury will present their opinion including whether willfulness has been found (more on this below). The judge will take a few more months to make a formal opinion, which will include the willfulness multiplier and potential future royalty rate.

Launch of Legal Action in Germany

The USA represents approximately 35% of Samsung’s QD TV sales (as estimated by Nanoco), however, Nanoco has a worldwide patent portfolio and will be looking to either reach a global settlement with Samsung or take action in various other geographies if successful in the USA.

NANO has just announced (23rd August) that they have filed a funded lawsuit in Germany, which is one of the largest European markets for high-end TV’s. I think this is laying the groundwork to increase the pressure on Samsung, and particularly if they are successful in the upcoming US trial. There is a risk with the US trial that Samsung appeal the outcome, and attempt to drag out actually paying damages for a number of years. However, in Germany, it is much more common to grant an injunction prohibiting the sale of infringing products, if Nanoco can win the US trial it is very possible such an injunction could be granted in Germany. This would be a significant real-world impact on Samsung’s business and help push Samsung to agree to a settlement.

Damages / Settlement Possibilities

If Nanoco wins the case, it is very difficult to accurately predict damages. I will therefore suggest some figures that people can play with. Note if successful in the US trial this will award damages for historical US sales, and may or may not specify a royalty for future US sales – it will not include anything for non-US sales. However, if a settlement is reached with Samsung, my understanding is this would likely be a single amount to cover worldwide historical and future sales.

Worldwide Samsung QLED TV sales, per Omdia:

nano sales

Note – current year and future year TV sales are very important. Reference.

Damages per TV – I would recommend reviewing the earnings call transcript from 3rd Nov. 2021 where CEO Brian Tenner talks at length about damages (available on TIKR). There are various damages models:

  • Nanoco would contend that their IP enabled the entire device (alas the CFQDs are very key to a premium QLED TV), and therefore you could reference the value of the entire TV (note the average retail device sales price was typically $2,000 – $2,500).
  • Another model is to consider the value of key components, given how important the CFQDs are to the picture quality (and for health/safety), this would also be an attractive model for Nanoco. Note that the Samsung QD TVs retailed for approximately $1,000 more than non-QD TV’s.
  • The lowest model is to use individual component value, i.e. of the QD film itself. I think there is a risk that historical discussions between Samsung & Nanoco may have referenced modest sales or royalty rates that may now be used to limit the damages awarded. I don’t know what these figures would be, but note that Edison estimated a royalty at $14.4 – 18.0 per TV, and Turner Pope Investments (TPI) estimated a low-end royalty in the range of $8 – 12 per TV. Both Edison and TPI “research” is paid for by Nanoco, so although the estimates will be presented as their own, you could wonder if Nanoco would have steered them a bit.

Management clearly said that the individual component value would be the most conservative model here. The calculations would go up by proving how fundamental the technology is to those Samsung TVs:

When we talk about a modest outcome, we — as I mentioned earlier, U.S. only historically only, but a modest outcome for us would also be using the worst case damages model, i.e., just looking at the individual components. If the jury were persuaded that actually know this technology fundamentally enabled the device and went for one of those other 2 higher-value models, then you would be moving significantly up from that.

For simplicity assume a low estimate of $10 per TV, and a medium estimate of $50 per TV being 5% of the approx. $1,000 increase in value of a QD TV vs non-QD TV.

Nanoco is alleging wilful infringement, and I would note the collaboration between the parties before Samsung decided to produce the quantum dots without paying Nanoco anything for the IP. If successful, this can result in a wilfulness multiplier being applied by the US judge of up to 3x, however, I have used 1.5x which may be more realistic – 1.5x rate has been the historical average in Eastern Texas:

And what that means is, did Samsung knowingly and deliberately infringe our IP? Our view is that they did, which is why we’re alleging that it was willful. And the reason that’s relevant is that, if willfulness is find, damage multipliers can be up to 3x the initial number from the jury. Now I should point out that the historical practice in the Eastern Texas is actually more like a 1.5x multiplier.

See below for Low & Medium estimates for royalty/damages amounts to approx. trial date Q3 2022, note the current market capitalization is only £153m:

nano calcs

The above figures do not include future years which are very significant given the 2021 run-rate of sales, and expectations per Brian Tennor’s 3rd Nov. 2021 transcript “Future sales are likely to be larger because the rate of sale of QD TVs is growing. And you then may have the kick-on benefit of generation 2 QD TVs.” If we assume annual TV sales of 10m, just slightly higher than 2021, this would produce a gross yearly royalty amount of $100m at the low estimate ($10 / TV), and $500m at the medium estimate ($50 / TV). The last of the 4 core quantum dot patents expire in early 2028, with another patent out to 2035 (I assume this is the ‘068 patent) – however as part of narrowing the case pre-trial Nanoco has withdrawn claims for the ‘068 & ‘557 patents. I am not sure exactly which of the 4 core quantum dot patents has the last expiry date, but if we assume one of those remaining expires in early 2028 this provides for c. 5 years of further coverage. Simply taking 5x the low estimate above is $500m, or 5x the medium estimate is $2,500m.

Operational Business

As can be seen from the saga with Samsung, Nanoco is very dependent on an end product being produced and sold to consumers that integrates their technology and is being paid for it.

Operationally they are focused on supplying quantum dots for infra-red sensing opportunities, they are working with 5 different customers and 8 distinct products, but it is not yet clear if any will move into production or not. The expectation is that in H2 CY 2022 they will have visibility as to whether one of these customers will move into live production in CY 2023 or not.

I don’t think the company has confirmed, but Edison has inferred that Nanoco’s “important European electronics customer” is ST Microelectronics. They also suggest that if an end customer of ST Microelectronics were to deploy the sensing application in a key mobile phone handset this could generate £15-20m of annual revenue to Nanoco.

If they can get real production orders (or agreed royalties) this part of the business could have real value, but I would not have any confidence in ascribing it significant value until they achieve this.

Financial Situation

The (expensive) litigation process is funded by a third party, and the company has done well at cutting costs in order to maximize its cash runway, further, it raised £5.4m in equity in June 2022 at 37p / share. As such they have a cash runway to CY 2025 – far past the imminent US trial (although appeals may follow), and it’s also possible they will have real production revenues prior to this point.

Cash (unaudited, as do not have audited FY results yet) in July 2022 £6.8m, debt at half year January 2022 £3.7m. For HY to Jan. 2022 cash burn was £0.3m / month. Note, a “major” work package for the European electronics customer was signed in June 2022 which helps to support the cash runway (stated by the company in August 2022 to extend to CY 2025).

Downside & Upside 

Pre-trial period:

  • Prior to the trial commencing potentially on the 3rd of October, I would view the downside as quite limited. Given most of the value ascribed currently relates to their prospects against Samsung, the legal developments to date have generally been very positive, and we have now passed the pre-trial conference point.
  • There is a real possibility that Samsung decide to make an acceptable settlement offer prior to trial. This would likely be a worldwide settlement agreement for all past & future royalties. This would mean they could avoid the risk of the jury deciding against them and possibly awarding a high amount per TV, and then also be exposed to possibly having an injunction stopping them from selling QLED TVs in Germany shortly afterward.

At trial:

  • Although it appears Nanoco is in a strong position going to trial, we don’t know what will come out during the trial process, and ultimately they could lose. If this happened I would ascribe minimal value to the operating business at this point, so would estimate the downside at c. 90%. This may be harsh, but they have not yet secured production orders for their sensing applications.
  • For upside, please see above the Damages / Settlement section, albeit the US trial itself will only award damages for US historic sales, and possibly set a royalty for US future sales.

Therefore, I view the risk/reward as incredibly compelling during this pre-trial period where a substantial settlement could be announced which would be transformational for the company. Once the trial starts it becomes much more binary, and while still interesting I would likely look to size the position much smaller.

Other points to note:

  • NANO’s largest shareholder is Lombard Odier Asset Management at c. 23%. They have historically been supportive, including subscribing to loan notes. More recently they have been reducing their holding, it should be noted the share price has increased substantially this year, and I don’t know the driver for their recent transactions i.e. portfolio/risk management vs change in view.
  • Richard Griffiths (/ related entities) was historically a large shareholder, and also supported the loan notes, however, he has recently sold down his shareholding below the reportable threshold.


43 thoughts on “Nanoco Group (NANO.L) – Patent Litigation – Multibagger Upside”

  1. According to your estimate of downside, the mathematical expectation is negative.

    • For the probabilities, are you referring to the presumed binarity after the pre-trial period? I think the point is that the pre-trial phase has good expected value.

  2. October 3rd is a Monday, so the latest date one could sell pre-trial is the previous Friday. Could a settlement come over the weekend in between?

    • October 3rd is just an indicative date when the trial schedule will be made. My understanding is that this might still shift. Here is how it was worded in the press release:

      “The court has now advised that another case that was scheduled to go to trial on 12 September 2022 will now go forward as scheduled. The Company understands that the next scheduled date for trials in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, is 3 October 2022. However, no scheduling order or priority of cases has been set as yet for 3 October 2022.”

  3. assuming this is a typo, but the current price and target price are out by a factor of 10 ?

    • Not sure I follow you. NANO.L stock on London Stock Exchange is quoted in British pence, so the quoted price of 50p/share is the same as £0.5/share.

      Or did you mean something else?

  4. All, a bit of a side note, but what are people’s preferred method for trading international stocks? (from the U.S. at least). When deciding whether to buy directly from international exchange vs. American depositary shares are you just looking for whichever market is more liquid? Any input is appreciated.

    • It seems that the court just decided to give priority to another case set on the same date. However, it sounds like NANO should now be on the top of the list for the next rescheduled date, so no more delays. The exact date will be announced later.

      From NANO CEO:

      We previously explained that this sort of change in court date is one minor downside to the system in Texas that delivers trials and outcomes at a much faster rate than most other jurisdictions in the US. […] We will update the market further when we have a revised scheduled trial date and when we know that we are first in the schedule and hence can be confident that the trial will start on the day in question. Our team of witnesses and advisers will remain in a state of readiness for a trial at any time in the short term.

  5. What was the timing of Samsung’s past settlements — were they immediately before trial?

    Also not sure how the Germany litigation plays into this. I imagine the ruling there isn’t contingent on the US ruling, and maybe Samsung would hold off settlement until just before the Germany case begins?

  6. Just to update on the trial date, my understanding from being in touch with the court, is that the next available date is 31st October, however trial priority for that date has not yet been set, so it is possible it could be delayed again.

    Worth noting the movement in GBP / USD FX rate since this was shared – making any USD award or settlement worth more in GBP.

    • Interesting that the same funder, who financed the US litigation, has now agreed to fund the Chinese litigation as well. A positive for the overall thesis, but could you clarify what do you mean by pre-trial settlement being “officially” in play?

      • Oh ok I misunderstood in that case. I’m going to assume we are still in pre-trial stage since a date has not been set (for the US trial). So, if we were only playing for a pre-trial settlement, we don’t have a date in mind to exit the position and should just hold on?

  7. Hey, I have been studying the case. Outlook seems good, 90% of the Quantum Dots market share is for Samsung(as stated by Nanoco CEO), while other players seems sceptical to enter to this niche market, so they are giving merit to the IP. However, one question arise, is why other players do not try to license with Nanoco and comercialice legally with the IP license. Do OP have any answer about this? I mean if this is such a good tech for TVs for better quality and energy saving, why not using this.

    • Actually disregard my comment, the below just hit my inbox,
      Nanoco Group plc, announces that the Court has notified Nanoco that the case between Nanoco and Samsung has been placed first in the trial schedule that commences on Friday 6-Jan-23.

      As is the usual practice, the court has scheduled a number of trials for the same date given that, historically, the majority of cases settle before trial.

      However, the fact that the Nanoco trial has been set first in the schedule, means that it is not dependent on other cases settling in order to proceed.

      • Once I went to court to fight a ticket, and the court first called up everybody whose cop wasn’t present, so they could dismiss as many cases as possible at the outset.

        Could there be a similar thing here? Is being first an indication that settlement is likely?

  8. Settlement reached, but no details of the agreement have been announced yet. Shares up +40% this morning.

    “Nanoco Group plc (LSE: NANO), a world leader in the development and manufacture of cadmium-free quantum dots and other specific nanomaterials emanating from its technology platform, announces that a term sheet for a no fault settlement of the current litigation has been agreed between Nanoco and Samsung (the “Parties”).

    The Parties now have 30 days to agree the detailed terms of a binding agreement.

    The Parties have therefore jointly requested a stay to the trial that was scheduled to commence on Friday 6 January 2023 in order to allow the detailed terms of a binding agreement to be finalised.”

    • Do you think it is worth taking a position at this point and price (60p)?


    Per link above – Nanoco have agreed term sheet for a settlement with Samsung, and are staying the trial while work on binding agreement.  No details of the settlement amount disclosed at this stage. Few points to consider:

    – Assuming becomes binding, this takes away the severe downside scenarios, as assume Nanoco would only agree to a decent settlement at this point.

    – Quote from Oct. call (per TIKR), indicates type of settlement Nanoco open to: But of course, any settlement, any early settlement, it’s going to be up to Samsung, if they’re prepared to engage on meaningful discussions about fair value that reflects the global nature of our patents and the lifetimes of our patents.

    – Hard to be confident, but I’d like to think value for SH’s will be at least 70p / share. This is also the level at which the LTIP options granted in Oct. that have a TSR condition all vest.

  10. Assuming NANO receive a settlement sum, what then? Have management stated that they will distribute those proceeds to shareholders, or are they compelled to do so perhaps? Could they simply use those funds to continue their R&D etc. and not distribute any of it to shareholders?

    • I doubt they will distribute the majority of the cash back to shareholders as they raised capital in 2022 and in the 2021 report they stated “ Management estimates that Nanoco has sufficient cash to continue its existing business activities until partway through FY22, so it is aiming to either generate additional organic revenues to resolve the cash deficit or to undertake a major restructuring exercise, removing the group’s R&D, production and scale-up capabilities to focus on pursuing the lawsuit against Samsung. The cash runway extends to the middle of calendar 2022 in this scenario. If one or more of the programmes does start to scale up, which would be likely in itself to extend the cash runway, we believe Nanoco would be well-placed to raise further finance at that point.”

      • I spoke to management very recently, they said they are funded until 2025 and capital returns are high on the priority list. Of course the company comes first they said, but they strongly signalled that a good share of the settlement/litigation proceeds would indeed be distributed

  11. From a comment on the forum I referenced above:

    ”″ [(i deleted the “https://www.” at the start to get this posted immediately)]

    “Q10: Do the lower damages awards as reported by Edison ($200-250m) apply to the current litigation territory (US only) or to worldwide sales dependent on additional litigation?”

    The answer was yes to US only and historic only. ‘So if you’re using that as a baseline number ($200-250m) then you have to apply those multipliers for the future & the rest of the world’

    • If this were true, then there should be no downside to the stock at 47p? Market reaction seems stupid then?

      • Yeah, I mean the company disclosures seem pretty loose to me and I’m surprised trading wasn’t suspended given the nature of the disclosures etc.

        But I really don’t have anything intelligent to add…

  12. Settlement update:

    Friday’s RNS – Litigation Outcome – Settlement Agreed
    This was a very brief announcement stating that the term sheet for a no fault settlement with Samsung had been agreed, staying the trial while they agree the detailed binding agreement over the next 30 days. Oddly (ominously?) there was no comment from the CEO, as often accompanies Nanoco news.

    A global settlement provides confidence of payment (instead of multi year legal battle, with appeals etc), past and future royalties (in a single payment), and crucially is for worldwide sales. From the information regarding damages approaches previously communicated by the company, as well as potential royalty rates from Edison and TPI “research” (paid for by Nanoco), the obvious conclusion would be this was a very positive outcome.

    Alas, with the shares trading at 43p pre-announcement, only 16% above the 37p oversubscribed fundraising in June 2022, why would the company settle unless it would provide substantial upside.

    On Friday the shares popped to c72p, however LOAM sold 12.5m shares, and they closed at 55.8p.

    Monday’s RNS – Litigation Settlement Update
    A much longer announcement, but with very little helpful information. Some further information was then provided through / by Edison. Key takeaways:

    1. I think the announcement was at least partially in response to the trading on Friday, and thus can be taken to indicate the settlement value is significantly below 72p / share. This is a substantial negative, as it essentially removes the possible balloon upside scenarios from the range of legal / settlement outcomes.

    2. Settlement at lower end of guidance, while they have never previously given $m guidance as to what the settlement / jury trial outcome would be (bold added):

    “The gross settlement value should be expected to be towards the lower end of the range of expectations for a successful jury trial outcome as previously guided by the Company.”

    Referencing the jury trial outcome brings confusion, given this was a US only trial, and the settlement is global in nature. One figure in the market is the $200 – 250m previously referenced by Edison (for US historical only). Alternatively I have seen email text purportedly from the CEO indicating expectations / guidance is simply that it would be “transformative for the Company’s prospects and for shareholder value.” and that this would be measured against the company’s market capitalisation (c$75m when they filed suit, and over $150m when announcing the settlement).

    3. The company communicate to some extent through Edison, and it is apparent they are talking down the implications of the prior mentioned $200 – 250m figure. They do recognise non-US and future will increase the amount, but then attempt to rebase by saying should use “lost earnings” rather than revenues (I would have expected this to be v. high margin revenue), and recognise a discount to avoid uncertainty of trial.

    Interpretation & Conclusion
    We are dealing with very limited information, disclosed to the market poorly. There is inherently a risk of mis-interpretation, and arriving at the wrong conclusion.

    Upside is very hard to assess. Using previously described damages approaches (enabling the entire device, enabling additional sales price above non-QD TV, or component value of QD film), and applying to a global settlement covering past and future, produces very large figures. However, as explained above with the sequencing & content announced, I view this major upside case as basically ruled out.

    The legal funding structure means that the proportion of the award that goes to the funder increases for smaller awards (max. 50%), with the indication this settlement is at the lower end of guidance, that pushes us towards a large portion going to the funder.

    Putting it all together, my sense is it is unlikely the gross settlement value exceeds $250m, however if the funder takes 40%, the post tax & loan note figure left for shareholders is perhaps c£100m or 30p / share.

    There is some further value from the organic QD sensing business, however I am not willing to ascribe significant value until they win commercial orders. It is also possible they are able to monetise the display IP a little further, however given Samsung have c90% of the market, I do not ascribe significant value to this either.

    Therefore, I am closing out this idea for the site.

    • Per Alan’s comment above, closing this idea on SSI, unfortunately at a 22% loss.

      Alan, thanks again for sharing.

    • What do you think is the probability that the net settlement figure per share is less than 30p?

  13. Seems like Nanoco idea was closed right on time. Settlement terms have been released. Total proceeds of $150m and net proceeds after legal fees of $90m, or 23p per share. As I understand there will be some more leakage due to tax on profits. No licensing royalties, just the upfront payment split in two tranches for ending all global litigation.

    • Unless your were dumb enough to buy at the top and then turn ‘risk seeking’ and try and ‘get back to even’…. not me… I didn’t do that…. (…that’s exactly what I did!) :-/

      On a serious note, (not that destroying capital faster than I ever thought possible isn’t serious), the way in which management communicated the litigation settlement can’t possibly be considered acceptable. They essentially created extreme volatility in the stock price. I would really like to see who bought and sold when and in what volume….

      I wonder were their signs prior to this of management maleficence?

      More generally I tend to see the UK/LSE as a junkier and junkier market with a weird auction system when trading, massive stamp duty and overall poor regulation when it comes to minority shareholders in particular. I might be wrong on all this based on my scant little experience in the UK market but it certainly is the ‘vibe’ I get from the LSE/AIM.

      Then again, if this multi bagged I probably walk away considering myself a great probabilistic thinker and don’t bother ranting about the UK market.

  14. NANO’s largest individual shareholder Tariq Hamoodi (owns 4%) has gone activist and released a presentation demanding board changes. Hamoodi claims that the board has completely mismanaged Samsung’s litigation and lost credibility with shareholders. The activist wants to devise a clear strategy for IP monetization going forward and pursue acquisitions of third-party patents.

    “Nanoco is currently trading at a significant discount to its net cash position including the scheduled second tranche of litigation proceeds from Samsung. There is good reason for the discount; shareholders have no confidence in management’s stewardship of the business after their apparent mismanaging of the Samsung litigation and never-ending delays over commercial production visibility. To make matters worse, the board is grossly overpaid, and there are serious questions over their independence.”

    Presentation –


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