Liquidmetal Technologies has filed a document with the SEC to extend its exclusive licensing agreement with Apple for another two years. The original agreement, which was reached in 2010, was set to expire on February 5. Under the amended agreement, it will be extended to February 5, 2014.
Liquidmetal Technologies is a materials sciences company that specializes in metal alloys that can be cast into extremely small, intricate shapes while retaining a level of durability and strength not usually found in cast metal objects. In 2010 Apple purchased the exclusive rights to use Liquidmetal’s intellectual property for two years, prompting speculation that the technology would be used in future Apple products.
Two months ago there was a report that the new iPhone would have a Liquidmetal body. The rumor, which came out of South Korea, suggested that Apple would be replacing the glass back panel found in the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S with a cast metal design made using Liquidmetal’s alloys. Early last month, though, Liquidmetal’s creator, Atakan Peker said in an interview that he didn’t believe the technology was ready to be mass produced on the scale necessary to use it for the entire back panel of the iPhone.
The agreement is embedded below:
Since then, leaked images of what appear to be the actual back panel for the new iPhone have surfaced. Between these images and Peker’s statements, it seems likely that the next iPhone won’t have a Liquidmetal back. On the other hand, this new agreement suggests that Apple does have plans to continue using Liquidmetal’s intellectual property in some way. What’s more, the fact that the new iPhone’s back panel probably won’t be Liquidmetal doesn’t mean that none of its components will be. In fact, Apple has already used the technology at least once – for the iPhone 4’s SIM removal tool. With another two years of exclusivity, it’s a fair bet that Apple is still planning to incorporate this remarkable technology in future products.