They have increased the number of trips to Paris, Strasbourg and even Brussels on Friday, September 17, trying to attract the attention of the research ministry as well as of European parliamentarians. While negotiations for a plan which provides for the dismissal of 59 researchers out of 141, or more than 40% of InterDigital’s research workforce in Cesson-Sévigné (Ille-et-Vilaine), are coming to an end, employees share a strong bitterness.
Everything had started well with this American company, which has 600 employees worldwide, 220 in France. Specialist in the research, development and monetization of advanced technologies for consumer electronic equipment (smartphones, 3G, 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi, etc.), in 2018-2019 it acquired Technicolor’s research and innovation activities ( ex-Thomson), recovering researchers, licenses and patents.
Distrustful at the outset, the employees noted that the takeover did not translate into any social setback. “They added days off, we were even entitled to a charity day, a paid day for volunteering. We saw investments in hardware and software. Until spring 2021, everything was going really well ”, says Guillaume Boisson, CFDT delegate at the CSE. Enough to disarm those who had feared that InterDigital would be one « patent troll », these companies which neglect research and live mainly from the purchase and the resale of patents by recovering money from companies which use them.
But in May, it’s a cold shower. An anonymous source blows to employees that layoffs are announced in Cesson-Sévigné. “When we asked management if they denied it, they refused to answer. We understand “, says Rémy Gendrot, SOUTH treasurer of the CSE.
Employees believe the company is demonstrating its opportunism by firing researchers after two years
In a fairly general statement in response to questions from World, InterDigital explains that it took this decision ” hard ” as a result of’“A strategic review of [ses] research and innovation priorities ”, recalling that it is a business “Which, for decades, has invested in basic research”, that “More than half of its workforce is made up of engineers” and “More than 90% of [ses] patents have been developed in-house by [ses] own research teams ”.
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