The Pandemic Pivot: a Sign of Ingenuity or Trouble?

The Ideal Industries’ acquisition of Cree Lighting appears to be failing.  It may be time to ask: is its pandemic pivot a good or bad sign? In past insights, the Patent Forecast® has repeatedly highlighted how companies both big and small have switched gears and begun looking toward solutions to COVID-related problems as a new source of revenue during the course of the last year. While the pandemic has adversely affected most of the population, it has also provided a spark of creativity for some inventors and time for them to work on developing new inventions. However, as much as the Pandemic Pivot speaks to the resilience of entrepreneurs, it can also be a worrying sign. 

In March 2019, Ideal Industries acquired Cree Lighting, one of the technological units of Cree based in Durham, NC, for $310 million. Less than two years later, in January 2021, it was forced to close Cree Lighting’s plant in Durham, moving some employees to Wisconsin and laying off more than 400 others. What went wrong? A recently issued patent may provide some insight. The patent, filed in late June 2020, is about wearable lights for creating a visible perimeter around a person for social distancing. Sure, this sounds creative, but what is Ideal Industries doing pivoting the resources of Cree Lighting to this so quickly? Cree Lighting had positioned itself as a leader in providing LED lighting to consumers and one would expect that Ideal Industries would still be leaning into developing its core business shortly after the acquisition in 2019. That Cree Lighting had shifted to providing wearable devices appears to be an indication that its core business was struggling, especially in light of the pandemic, and Ideal Industries was looking for alternative projects to keep it afloat. 

At Patent Forecast®, we not only provide you with up-to-date information regarding patents, but contextualize that information in light of market information as well. For more updates about how patent data can predict market behavior, check out our free Patent Forecast® for Pandemics.

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