Photronics Inc is a Connecticut corporation, organized in 1969. The Company and its subsidiaries are the manufacturers of photomasks, which are high precision photographic quartz plates containing microscopic images of electronic circuits. Photomasks are a key element in the manufacture of semiconductors and flat panel displays, or FPDs, and are used as masters to transfer circuit patterns onto semiconductor wafers and flat panel substrates during the fabrication of integrated circuits, or ICs, and a variety of FPDs and, to a lesser extent, other types of electrical and optical components. The Company currently operates principally from eight manufacturing facilities; two of which are located in Europe, two in Taiwan, one in Korea and three in the United States. The Company manufactures photomasks, which are used as masters to transfer circuit patterns onto semiconductor wafers and flat panel substrates. The Company's photomasks are manufactured in accordance with circuit designs provided on a confidential basis by its customers. The typical manufacturing process for a photomask involves the receipt and conversion of circuit design data to manufacturing pattern data. The Company currently supports customers across the full spectrum of IC production and FPD technologies by manufacturing photomasks using electron beam or optical (laser-based) technologies. The market for photomasks mainly consists of domestic and international semiconductor and FPD manufacturers and designers, including a limited number of manufacturers who have the capability to internally manufacture photomasks. Generally, the Company and each of its customers engage in a qualification and correlation process before the company becomes an approved supplier. The Company conducts its sales and marketing activities mainly through a staff of full-time sales personnel and customer service representatives who work closely with the company's management and technical personnel. Photronics sells its products to semiconductor and FPD manufacturers such as: ASML Holding N.V., Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., Inotera Memories, Inc., LG Electronics, Inc., Novatek Microelectronics Corp., Ltd., Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Texas Instruments Incorporated, United Microelectronics Corp., etc. The Company conducts its primary research and development activities for IC photomasks at its MP Mask Technology Center, LLC. The Company also conducts application oriented research and development activities to support the early adoption of new photomask or supporting data and services technology into the customers' applications. Photronics owns or has rights to approximately 40 patents in the United States. The raw materials used by the Company generally include high precision quartz plates, which are used as photomask blanks, obtained from Japanese and Korean suppliers; pellicles and electronic grade chemicals, which are used in the manufacturing process; and compacts, which are durable plastic containers in which photomasks are shipped. These materials are generally sourced from several suppliers. The Company's competitors include Compugraphics, Inc., Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd., Hoya Corporation, SK-Electronics Co. Ltd., Taiwan Mask Corporation, Toppan Printing Co., Ltd. and Toppan Chungwha Electronics Corporation. The Company is subject to numerous environmental laws and regulations that impose various environmental controls on, among other things, the discharge of pollutants into the air and water and the handling, use, storage, disposal and clean-up of solid and hazardous wastes.