MEMS gyroscopes are currently a very hot business. Investigating the patent situation is essential to understanding the present business climate and anticipating future developments.
The MEMS gyroscope patent landscape is heating up!
The gyroscope market is driven by mobile applications, where until recently only two players, STMicroelectronics (ST) and InvenSense, were competing. Now, many companies are present. The first patent disputes to develop over the last few years (linked to Wacoh’s patents) or that are currently occurring (ST vs. InvenSense) signal the beginning of a fight for gyro and inertial combo market ownership.
This report represents a link to the technical trends Yole Développement has observed in the industry. Comparisons and matching between existing product process flows (reconstituted from teardowns) and related patents are provided. In particular, a case study on InvenSense’s MPU-9150 9-axis sensor is included.
As illustrated by the aforementioned disputes, (which are detailed in this report), IP is critical in this area; thus, the link between IP and market evolution is critical as well. One of this report’s most important findings is that the focus has shifted to the software side, where considerable value can be created. Indeed, an increasing number of companies with different value chain positions are developing functionalities based on MEMS gyroscopes, along with related IP.
Understanding the key players’ patent portfolios
About 200 players are involved in MEMS gyroscope technologies, but the top 10 represent 63% of the patents filed!
Panasonic and Murata lead the way. Both were early players in the industry, with piezo/ceramicstyle gyroscopes.
Other players such as Analog Devices, Robert Bosch, ST and InvenSense developed their technologies based on silicon substrates and the capacitive detection principle. It’s important to note that these players’ MEMS portfolios are generally much larger than what’s included in this report, since many of their patents are generic publications which can apply to many types of MEMS components, and not specifically to gyros.
This report provides an in-depth patent portfolio analysis of the three assignees which Yole Développement identifies as today’s industry leaders: ST, InvenSense and Robert Bosch. For each company, Yole Développement’s analysis highlights the following areas:
Patent evolution chart
Analysis of patent geography, inventors, legal status and citations
An accurate segmentation highlighting the major IP trends that Will Shape tomorrow’s MEMS gyro industry
For our MEMS gyroscope patent analysis, more than 4,700 patent families were screened. 53% of them were classified as relevant or related, and worthy of further study. A closer look revealed that intense patenting activity began in the late 80’s, stabilized in the 90’s and then increased over the past 10 years. The first MEMS gyroscope patents are quite old and the technology has evolved greatly in the past few years, so understanding the most recent evolutions is essential.
“In domain” patents are mostly filed by firms and universities located in Japan and the USA. However, a significant portion of the actual business is done by German (Robert Bosch) and Italian (STMicroelectronics) companies. The lesson: generating patents doesn’t mean generating business!
This report also provides an Excel database of all the relevant patents Yole Développement has analyzed, allowing for multi-criteria searching. The criteria are similar to those used for the technological segmentation:
Patent publication number
PDF document link
Oldest priority date
Patent potential ranking
Number of citing patent families
MEMS design & process
Circuit & IC design
This complete patent landscape description is included in the report and provides all background materials utilized for the MEMS gyroscope patent landscape analysis. Also included is a complete analysis of patents’ geographical origins, companies and R&D organizations which have been granted patents, historical data on companies’ patent applications over the last 40 years, patent inventors, expiration status, R&D collaborations, and much more.
The comb drive design in silicon MEMS is a winning technology approach, allowing for miniaturization, cost reduction and a high level of integration. As this capacitive detection approach is now mature, it’s important to consider the latest IP activity since radical technology approaches will need developing.
A segmentation was created and a ranking of the most important patents was undertaken to identify:
Top-cited patents: historically important in the past
Top-ranked patents: important for the future
30 key patents are detailed, and a ranking of their strengths and weaknesses is provided. The ranking is based on Yole Développement’s unique methodology, which evaluates 13 parameters:
Technology infringement capability
Innovation intensity of application field
Methodology of the analysis
Through requests made to Micropatent and several other databases, Yole Développement has developed a unique methodology (described in the sample) for defining not only the patent landscape’s technical segmentation, but also which patents are the most innovative, either for future preparation or for use in current production. By blending its technical knowledge, business acumen and patent search abilities, Yole Développement has created a report that provides unique analysis and tremendous added-value.
Note: This data was collected in January 2013. The results corresponding to the years 2011 and 2012 may not be final, since a significant number of patent applications filed during those years may not be published yet.
Objectives of the report
Overview of “who owns what” in terms of patents for MEMS gyroscope sensors and gyro-based applications, plus a dedicated focus on the most active top players
Presentation of MEMS gyroscope’s current industrial and business status
Definition and delivery of a database containing all relevant patents, with technological segmentation
Identify key patents and the owners of these patents
Identify structuring IP concepts from a technological and an industrial point-of-view, leading to business and strategic conclusions
Analyze the link between patents, technology implementation and business status
Companies cited in the report (Non-exhaustive)
American GNC, Analog Devices, Boeing, CEA, Crossbow, Denso, Draper Lab, Hillcrest Laboratories, Honeywell, InvenSense, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, Litef, Memsic, Movea, Murata, Northrop Grumman, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Ricoh, Robert Bosch, Samsung, Seiko Epson, Sensor Platforms, Sony, STMicroelectronics, Systron Donner Inertial, Thales, Thomson, Tsinghua University, Univ. Shanghai, University Of California, Wacoh, XSens and many more!
Key features of the report
Gyroscope market’s status and technological developments
MEMS gyroscope market and 2013 competition
Technology trends for front-end manufacturing, assembly and software
Statistical analysis of existing IP
Patent landscape overview
Top industrial and academic players
Details on geography, inventors, legal status, etc.
Segmentation by patent type (MEMS design/IC/Software)
Patent ranking and in-depth analysis of 30 key patents selected by Yole Développement
Focus on STMicroelectronics, InvenSense and Bosch patent portfolios
Analysis of the link between IP and industry trends
Table of content
Survey context and frame
Definitions & glossary
Objective and methodology
Executive summary 18
1. MEMS gyroscope status: market and technology trends 42
Gyroscope design and detection principle
Technical trends in front-end and assembly
Software trends: gyroscope-based functionalities
2. MEMS gyroscope patent landscape 97
Evolution of MEMS gyro patent publication timeline
Geographical distribution of patent filings
Legal status of patent filings
Top 10 IPC classes
Top 15 patent applicants
Top 10 academic assignees
Assignee collaborative network
Top 10 inventors, and latest inventors
Inventor/assignee collaborative network and assignee citations network
Summary of top 15 patent assignees’ patent portfolio
3. Segmentation and patent ranking 117
Technology segmentation and top patent assignees for each segment
4. MEMS gyroscope business leaders’ patent portfolio analysis 131