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LED Phosphors and Down-Converters Patent Investigation

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www.i-micronews.comuploadRapportsYole LED Phosphor IP September 2013 Report web.pdf - Google ChromePhosphor related intellectual property has been and remains a major driving force with strong impact on the shape of the LED industry.

LED phosphor IP is shaping the industry

The first commercial GaN-based blue LEDs were produced in Japan in the mid 90’s after researchers Shuji Nakamura at Nichia and Professor Akasaki at Nagoya University (IP assigned to Toyoda Gosei) succeeded in removing some of the major remaining roadblocks associated with this technology (p-doping, epitaxy quality…).


Quickly leveraging on this success, some fundamental patents describing the use of a blue LED combined with a phosphor to produce white LEDs were filed by Nichia, Osram, ATMI and others. Those fundamental patents were rapidly followed by a fast growing number of applications through 2005 as an increasing number of companies started to compete in the LED market and new applications in cell phone, laptop and LCD TV display, and general lighting were being addressed.

Phosphor IP is a major force in the LED industry. With more than 40 litigation cases, it is also used as leverage by companies which have negotiated close to 70 licensing and supply agreements to date. It can also be argued that in the first half of the 2000 decade, the strict enforcement and lack of license grants for some fundamental IP related to the design and manufacturing of white LEDs might also have slowed down the progress of the industry by preventing more efficient competition that would allow prices to decrease.

The report identifies the key players with the most relevant IP. It provides an overview, of phosphor related IP litigation and licensing, that has shaped the industry since the mid 90s, as well as a detailed analysis for the major players involved.


A vast number of relevant patents

Our search strategy combines automated and manual screenings that have led to the selection of more than 4,500 relevant patent families. Those have been segmented by type (composition patent or phosphor configuration patents) and organized in various technology segments that are analyzed in detail: garnets, silicates, nitrides and oxynitrides, quantum dots. The report also includes a special focus on the emerging LED phosphor IP in China.

For each segment, the report provides a detailed analysis including the time evolution of patent filings, identification of the key players, collaborations and citation networks, as well as the identification of the key patents based-on citation and impacts in litigations.

Yole LED IP Time evolution of top 13 September 2013

The report also includes a companion excel database with all patents of the company profiled in the report. This database includes abstracts and hyperlinks to the original documents and allows multi-criteria searches (patent publication number, priority date, title, applicants, technological segments…)

The key players identified

Hundreds of companies are involved in LED phosphor IP. Most of the major LED players are present in the list of the top patent assignees. But independent phosphor manufacturers like Intematix or Mitsubishi that are offering their phosphors on the open market are also emerging as major forces in the IP landscape.

Leading Taiwan based packagers are notably absent from this ranking. This weak position explains the large number of litigations and one way, royalty or supply based license agreements involving those companies.

The report provides an analysis and ranking of the relative strength of the top Led phosphor IP holders derived from their portfolio size, patent citations networks, number of family etc…

Based on this portfolio analysis as well as on their litigation and licensing history, we have identified 15 major players that are profiled in this report. Each profile includes a detailed portfolio analysis with the time evolution of patent filing by segment as well as a list of key patents, citations, collaborations, litigations and licensing.

Composition focus shifting from yellow to red and green phosphors

With high performing silicates now widely available as a YAG substitutes for yellow emission, the focus on new composition development and patent protection has mostly shifted toward red and green converters. The market for those new phosphors and some of themost critical IP are currently dominated by Mitsubishi and Denka, which have acquired nitrides and oxynitrideslicenses from NIMS. However, many other players are also developing nitride and oxynitride compositions, including Intematix, Beijing Yuji and Lightscape (now dow electronic materials). New material families are also considered as promising phosphors including Tungstate and Molybdates as well as Fluorides championed by GE.

Following recent progress in thermal stability and manufacturability, quantum dot are also finally emerging as a credible option. Because of their narrow emission bands, LCD display is the most promising application for the technology. In lighting, the use of red QD in combination with standard phosphor could emerge in remote phosphor applications.


Table of contents

The authors 9
Scope of the report 10
What’s in the report / What’s not 11
Terminologies for patent analysis 13
Methodology 15
Search strategy and patent screening 17
Technological segmentation 19
Different types of phosphor converted LED 20
Example 21
Executive Summary 24
> Introduction
> LED phosphor market forecast
> Industry landscape
> How phosphor patents shaped the industry
> Phosphor related license agreements
> Litigations plaintiffs and defendants
> Litigations by patent families
> Time evolution of patent filing
> Main patent assignees ranking
> Analysis
> Strength of main assignee portfolio
> Portfolio strength and revenue
> Geographic breakdown of patent filings
> Material trends
> Nichia patent invalidation attempts
> Analysis of technology segments (silicates, garnets, nitrides, QD)
> Overview
> Main patent assignees
> Major reference patents
> China
> Conclusions

Overview of the LED industry 64
> LED market segments
> History of the LED industry
> Packaged LED revenue forecast by application
> Packaged LED volume forecast by application
> LED penetration rates - Comparison 2012 vs. 2020

LED phosphor market overview 71
> Phosphors for LEDs: How to make white light?
> Major LED phosphor materials
> LED phosphor materials trends
> Remote phosphors
> LED phosphor industry landscape
> Market quantifications: Methodology / challenges / Key hypothesis / Scenario #1: No remote phosphors / Remote phosphors hypothesis /  Scenario #2: Volumes with remote phosphors / Revenue / Captive and open market

IP Landscape overview 89
> Time evolution of patent filing
> Example of fundamental phosphor patents
> Geographic breakdown of patent filing: Phosphor materials & LED with WL conversion
> Time evolution by country of filing: Phosphor material & LED with WL conversion
> Time evolution by country of publication: Phosphor material & LED with WL conversion
> Legal status breakdown
> Main IPC classes: Phosphor materials & LED with WL conversion
> Main patent assignees ranking
> Time evolution of top 15 patent assignees:  Phosphor materials & LED with WL conversion
> Country of filing for top 15 patent assignees: Phosphor materials & LED with WL conversion
> Main academic patent assignees
> Patent assignees IP network: Phosphor materials
> Patent assignee network: LED with WL conversion
> Summary of main assignee portfolio: Phosphor > Materials & LED with WL conversion - Analysis
> Strength of Main Assignee Portfolio: Phosphor Materials & LED with WL conversion - Analysis
> Portfolio strength and revenue

Analysis of technology segments 119
> Matrix applicants/phosphor composition
> Discussion
> Garnets (p123) / silicates (p135) / nitrides and oxynitrides (p147) / quantum dots (p165) / remote phosphors (p179)
> For all these analysis :
- Overview
- Composition and IP
- Time evolution of patent filings
- Main patent assignees
- Others
- Time evolution of patent assignees
- Countries of filing for main patent assignees
- Patent assignee IP network
- Assignee citation network
- Main cited patents
- Major reference patents

Focus on China 191

> Overview
> Main patent assignees: Patent portfolio comparison
> Other patent assignees
> Patent assignee IP network

Litigation and licensing landscape 198

> Overview and history
> Chronology
> Overview of phosphor related license agreements
> Main litigations, plaintiffs and defendants
> Litigation by patent families
> Patent families involved in litigation by priority date
> Consequences
> Counterfeit phosphors

Focus on key players 211

> For all of them : Portfolio analysis, key patents, citations & collaborations, litigations and licenses, and additional info regarding Nichia key patent invalidation attempts, licensing revenue and general approach to IP

CREE 212

> Denka (Denki Kagaku Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha) 217
General Electric / Gelcore (Lumination) / GE Lighting 220

Intematix 223
LG 228
Mitsubishi (Mitsubishi Cable + Mitsubishi Chemical) 233
Nichia 238
NIMS (National Institute for Materials Science) 247
Philips 256
Samsung (Samsung Led - Samsung Electro Mechanics - Samsung Electronics) 262
Seoul Semiconductor 269
Toyoda Gosei 274
Others: Toshiba, Sharp, Panasonic, Sumitomo 279
Portfolio Analysis Annexes: Focus on Inventor Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Thomas Jüstel 281
> Time evolution of patent filings
> Collaboration network and composition segmentation 



Companies Cited

Non exhaustive list - Complete list in the report

Advanced Optoelectronic Technology (AOT)
Advanced Technilgy Material Inc (ATMI)
Agilent Technologies
Aurora Energie

Beijing Technology and Business University
Beijing Yuji
Bright LED
Changchun Institute Of Applied Chemistry
Changchun University
Changshu Institute of Technology
Changshu Yatai Fluorescent Material
Chengdu University of Information Technology
Chimei Corporation
China Glaze
China Jiliang University



    • LED phosphors market data and forecasts
    • Analysis of technology key segments and key players
    • Special focus on key families and configurations:
      - Garnets
      - Silicates
      - (Oxy)nitrides and carbidonitrides
      - Quantum dots
      - Remote phosphors
    • Overview of patent litigation and licensing
    • Phosphor IP” profiles of the main companies with key patents, compositions, configurations, strategy, litigations, licensing and partnerships
    • Excel database with all patents of the company profiled in the report

LED Phosphors