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Capacitive Fingerprint Sensors Technology and Patent Infringement Risk Analysis 2015

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fingerprint infringement flyer

Who risks to be deprived of its imprint in future infringement lawsuits?


Fingerprint sensors using capacitive technology represent a fast growing market, especially in smartphones. The fingerprint sensor vendor Idex forecasts an increase of 360% of the number of fingerprint sensor units in mobile devices and of the fingerprint sensor market between 2014 and 2017 (source : N+1 Singer, Idex, 2014). A new generation of capacitive fingerprint sensors has emerged in the last few years and have been incorporated in the last generations of smartphones of companies like Apple, Samsung or Huawei. The market growth for fingerprint sensors is also supported by a new phase of IP development, revealed by an increase in the number of new patents related to capacitive fingerprint sensor published since 2012 (source: Knowmade, ‘Capacitive Fingerprint Sensors Patent Landscape’, 2015).
Fingerprint sensors are greatly appreciated by smartphone’s users. Indeed, such biometric authentication mode is easier and quicker than a password to access the device. It also allows to give selected access to applications for each user of the device. Thus the fingerprint sensor needs to be trustworthy.

In a patent infringement action, the potential sales volume plays a major role for assessing the damage award. Thereby, this study is naturally focused on the fingerprint sensor components designed by 3 leaders of fingerprint sensing solutions and integrated in the devices of 3 major smartphone vendors : TMDR92 (AuthenTec, Apple iPhone 5S), FPC1020 (Fingerprint Cards, Huawei Ascend Mate 7), VAL004A8-T (Synaptics-Validity, Samsung Galaxy S5) and B1202A0-01 (Synaptics-Validity, Samsung Galaxy S6).

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Those 4 fingerprint sensors represent different technological choices but sharing common characteristics. Thus, combining the data obtained by the tear down of each sensor performed by System Plus Consulting with the IP analysis of Knowmade, this report highlights the IP behind each fingerprint sensor and analyzes the risk of patent infringement between AuthenTec-Apple, Fingerprint Cards and Synaptics-Validity. It appears that main risks concern the packaging and the integration of the fingerprint sensor in the device.

This report provides an overview of technology data and manufacturing process of TMDR92, FPC1020, VAL004A8-T and B1202A0-01 fingerprint sensor components. A comparative study of the technology and manufacturing process of these fingerprint sensor components has been performed in order to highlight the technical similarities and differences of the product features.


System Plus Consulting performed a tear down of 4 devices including a fingerprint sensor : Apple iPhone 5S (TMDR92, AuthenTec-Apple), Huawei Ascend Mate 7 (FPC1020, Fingerprint Cards), Samsung Galaxy S5 (VAL004A8-T, Synaptics-Validity) and Samsung Galaxy S6 (B1202A0-01, Synaptics-Validity).
Knowmade then compared the features of each fingerprint sensor revealed by the teardown to the IP portfolio of the technology owner. The selected features are mainly related to the fingerprint sensor die, its packaging and the assembly of the fingerprint sensor in the mobile phone.
Key patents held by AuthenTec-Apple, Fingerprint Cards, and Synaptics-Validity related to these technology features have been identified. For each product feature, the links between the patented technologies and the target product have been established.

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The potential infringing parties of the target product have been identified. The contents of patents have been compared with actual technological solutions used in the marketed target products TMDR92 (AuthenTec-Apple), FPC1020 (Fingerprint Cards), VAL004A8-T (Synaptics-Validity) and B1202A0-01 (Synaptics-Validity), in order to highlight, for each fingerprint sensor component, the potential risks of patent infringement and related patents requiring more in-depth legal assessments. This report provides discussions on the potential risks of patent infringement by comparing relevant patent claim elements to the target product features. We have identified several potential risks of patent infringements in some technology features from target products TMDR92, FPC1020, VAL004A8-T and B1202A0-01. Key patents requiring more in-depth legal assessment have been identified.

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The report also includes an Excel database with all patents analyzed in this study (26 patent families composed of 100+ patents) This database allows multi-criteria searches and includes : 

• Patent publication number
• Hyperlinks to the original documents
• Priority date
• Title
• Abstract
• Applicants
• Legal status for each patent

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• Find the technical and manufacturing process similarities and differences of TMDR92, FPC1020, VAL004A8-T and B1202A0-01 fingerprint sensors
• Identify key patents held by AuthenTec-Apple, Fingerprint Cards, Synaptics-Validity, and related to the target product features
• Find the link between patented technological solutions and marketed products
• Discover the potential infringing parties and help to find evidence of use
• Understand potential risks of patent infringement and identify the patents which require a more in depth legal assessment


Table of contents


Scope of the Study
Rationales for Choice
Key Features of the Report
Objectives of the Report
Terminology for Patent Analysis
Patent Search Strategy


Companies Presentation p15

Fingerprints Card
Validity & Synaptics

Products Presentation p20

> Fingerprint Sensor Supply Chain
TMDR92 – iPhone 5S
FPC1020 – Ascend Mate 7
VAL004A8-T – Galaxy S5
B1202A0-01 – Galaxy S6


Executive Summary p26

Teardown p31
Physical Analysis Methodology
Fingerprint Sensor Characteristics
Sensing Area
Technology Comparison
























Patent Analysis p38

Patent Infringement Risk Potential
IP Portfolio
TMDR92 – Apple iPhone 5S p41
Patent Identification
Patent Infringement Risk


FPC1020 - Huawei Ascend Mate 7 p53

Patent Identification
Patent Infringement Risk


VAL004A8-T - Samsung Galaxy S5 p73

Patent Identification
Patent Infringement Risk


B1202A0-01 - Samsung Galaxy S6 p93

Patent Identification
Patent Infringement Risk


Conclusions p112

Customer Satisfaction Survey p116

Related Reports p117






About the authors

Headquartered in Sophia Antipolis, France, Knowmade is a Technology Intelligence and IP Strategy consulting company. We provide Patent Search, Patent Analysis, Patent Valuation, IP Landscape, Scientific Literature Landscape, Technology Scouting, Technology Transfer and Technology Tracking. Our service offer consists of custom studies, on-demand tracking, analysis reports and strategy consulting. We combine information search services, scientific expertise, powerful analytics and visualization tools, and proprietary methodologies for analyzing patents and scientific information. With a solid focus on Microelectronics, Compound Semiconductors, LED, MEMS, Nanotechnology and Biotechnology, Knowmade supports research laboratories, industrial companies and investors in their business development.


Headquartered in Nantes, France, System Plus Consulting is specialized in technology and cost analysis of electronic components and systems in the fields of Integrated Circuits, Power Devices and Modules, MEMS & Sensors, LED, Image Sensors, Packaging including wafer level, Electronic Boards and Systems. The company offers custom reverse costing analyses, standard reverse costing reports and costing tools. These analyses are used by Purchasing Departments to measure their suppliers’ cost structure, R&D Departments to confirm technological choices depending on their impact on costs, and Benchmarking/Marketing Departments to monitor the products on the market.


  • Deep insight on technology data and manufacturing processes

  • Comparative studies of product features (similarities & differences)

  • Key patents related to the target product features per company

  • Cross analysis of potential patent infringement risks

  • Excel database with all patents analyzed in the report