LED developer Lextar and microLED display developer X Display Company (XDC) announced that the two companies entered into a development, licensing and services agreements. Lextar licensed XDC's IP and Lextar will supply its high-performance microLED chips to XDC's customers.
Lextar says that this agreement will accelerate the commercialization of next-generation microLED displays, and its customers can now benefit from a one-stop service, from microLED chips to display modules.
Yole Developpement reports that about 5,500 microLED patents (2,500 patent families) have been filed, by more than 350 organizations. The rate of patent filing is growing exponentially - 40% of the patents were filed in 2019.
According to Yole, the recent patent filing shows that the industry is moving from prototypes to commercial consumer displays. Other notable new finding include that startup companies are a major innovation force, Apple is slowing down with its IP (but this could mean that the company is now focused on commercialization), and Samsung pursues multiple development tracks. BOE is another strong microLED IP player, with almost 150 patent familiies filed in 2019.
UK-based GaN-On-Si MicroLED microdisplay developer Plessey Semiconductor announced that it managed to deposit native blue and green microLEDs on the same wafer. Plesseyâs new patented process forms microLEDs that exhibit high current density operation and long operational lifetime.
Plessey said that to achieve this important milestone they had to overcome several challenges - including a magnesium memory effect, diffusion from the p-type cladding of the lower junction into the upper junction and the requirement for the precise tuning of the thermal budget during the growth of the second junction to prevent indium phase separation in the blue active region.
US-based VerLASE Technologies announced that it is developing technologies for massively parallel assembly of microLED dies or films. The company has already files for multiple patents for its new technology.
VerLASE says that it is using practical methods and well-proven semiconductor and MEMs industry methods and existing tools. The company's technology will enable "deterministic, massively parallel transfers of microdie, with provisions that allow selective repair". The methods involve techniques used daily in Ink-Jet Printing but is not printing per se.
The Korea Intellectual Property Office released a report on the Micro LED industry IP situation - in which it says that Korean display companies may lose their current industry lead as they account for less than 15% of all micro LED display patent applications.
The leading countries in Micro-LED IP are China and the United States - which together account for more than 50% of all applications.
In September 2018 we reported that China-based San'an Optoelectronics is gearing up to setup its first micro-LED epitaxial wafer and chip production line in Q1 2019, and in early 2019 it was reported that San'n plans to start sampling Micro LED chips as early as January 2019.
In a new press release, San'an announced that it is advancing with its Micro-LED R&D and capacity investment, and the company has filed for 27 patents and has signed several key partnerships. San'an also says that it has "expanded its manufacturing capabilities and facilities for micro-LED production".
The Korea Herald reports that Apple and its subsidiary LuxVue Technology applied for over 30 Micro-LED patents in Korea in the past 10 years. As Apple's Micro-LED project is progressing, the company aims to prevent its competitors in Korea (mainly Samsung and LGD) from using its key Micro-LED technology.
According to the report, Apple applied for 11 patents directly, while LuxVue applied for 23 patents. LuxVue was acquired by Apple in 2014. Apple applied for patents that related to the Micro-LED chip structure, the pick-and-place process and the driving system.
UK-based Optovate announced that it has developed a technology that enables multiple microLEDs transferred in parallel from a wafer to a substrate to be aligned in one step with a precision optical array.
Optovate says that this technology is protected in a portfolio of 20 granted and pending patents dating from 2008. The company is now looking for display partners to commercialize its technology.
Yole Developpement published an interesting article discussing the patent landscape of the MicroLED industry. As of today, almost 1,500 MicroLED patents were filed by 125 companies and organization. The overall corpus has an average of 3.2 years, which makes these patents quite new.
The initial micro-LED patents, filed at around 2000-2001, were mostly by a variety of research institutes, by large companies such as Sony and Sharp but also by startups such as Luxvue (acquired by Apple). The activity in this field is still led mostly by startups, and with the exception of Sony and Sharp, mature display makers are relative latecomers.