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RF Acoustic Wave Filters Patent Landscape Analysis

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Couv RF Filters Knowmade

SAW and BAW filters are key components of today’s mobile communication modules thanks to their small size, low cost and high performance. But who has the best IP position for the upcoming 5G protocol?


Since the development of analog radio frequency (RF) communication in the early 1990’s, front end modules have become key components. Among all front end module devices, filtering will be the strongest growing market over the next five years. A compound annual growth rate of 8% is set to make the filter market worth $16 billion in 2022 according to Yole Développement’s March 2017 report, ‘RF Front End Modules and Components for Cellphones’. Acoustic wave technology has become the best way to deliver high performance, small and low-cost filters in analog RF communication. And today, as 5G communication protocols take shape, acoustic wave filter players have consolidated their position. They are now developing filters that will address the requirements of the upcoming 5G mass market.

In the 1990s, SAW filter patent publications grew rapidly, heralding the development of the RF acoustic wave filter market in the 2000s. Since 2010, the market has consolidated, while we have witnessed of the flattening of the patent activity growth and the strengthen of the IP position of several companies. It is now essential to understand the RF acoustic filter patent landscape, the key patented technologies and players’ IP positions. Such knowledge can help anticipate the upcoming revolution, detect business opportunities, mitigate risks and make strategic decisions to strengthen one’s market position.

In this report, Knowmade has thoroughly investigated the patent landscape for RF acoustic wave filters dedicated to mobile applications, including SAW, TC-SAW, BAW-FBAR, BAW-SMR, duplexers, multiplexers and diplexers. We have evaluated the IP position of key players through detailed analysis of their patent portfolios, including the legal status of the patents, their geographic coverage, their claimed inventions and their prior art contribution. We also study their IP strategy and their IP blocking potential.

Yole RF acoustic filters IP dynamics


More than 6,550 RF acoustic filter inventions have been published worldwide up to July 2017 by more than 630 patent applicants. The related patenting activity started in the 1970s in Japan, with the emergence of surface acoustic filters for Intermediate Frequency (IF) TV applications. They have rapidly became a worldwide topic for which the major IP players come from Japan, like Japan Radio and NEC, and the U.S., like Motorola. In the 2000s, the number of BAW-related patent publications increased strongly with the development of applications for smartphones and 3G. Today, IP activity has settled down and Japanese players like Murata or Taiyo Yuden lead the SAW patent landscape, while American players like Qorvo, Qualcomm and Broadcom lead the BAW patent landscape.



More than 630 patent applicants are involved in the RF acoustic filter-related patent landscape. Knowmade has analyzed the IP position of key players in detail. This report provides an understanding of their patented technologies and IP strategy. We also reveal the relative strengths of the top patent owners, derived from their patent portfolio sizes, patent citations, countries of patent filings, enforceable patents and pending patent applications.

Thanks to market data and quantitative/qualitative IP analyses, we make projections for both the SAW and BAW related patent landscapes and analyze the main changes that could occur in the next five years.

Yole IP leadership main players BAW filters



The >6,550 patent families selected for the present study have been categorized by technology into SAW, FBAR and SMR, and type of device, into duplexers, multiplexers and diplexers. They have also been categorized by type of packaging, into flip-chip, through silicon via (TSV)-based 3D integration and wafer level packaging, and technical challenges such as thermal drift compensation. This report reveals the IP strategies and the technical choices of the main patent assignees.

We depict the IP profile of the key players: Murata, Broadcom, Qualcomm/NXP, Skyworks, Taiyo Yuden, Qorvo, TDK, Akoustis, Resonant, Wisol, JCET and Intellectual Ventures. Each profile includes IP dynamics, current legal status of the patents, countries of filing, key patents and the most recent patented technologies.

Moreover, a short patent-to-product mapping is presented and exhibits the patents linked to the commercial products of the major market players.

Yole Technology approach main patent assignees


The report also includes an Excel database containing the >6,550 patent families analyzed in the study. This useful patent database allows multi-criteria searches and includes patent publication number, hyperlinks to the original documents, priority date, title, abstract, patent assignees, technological segments and current legal status for each member of the patent families.

Yole Patent linked to market products


Table of contents

Introduction 4

> Scope of the report
> Key features of the report
> Objectives of the report


Context 12

> Market data
> Technology definitions
> Mergers and acquisitions


Methodology 22

> Patent search, selection and analysis
> Search equations
> Terminologies for patent analysis



IP Landscape Overview 29

> Time evolution of patent publications
> Main countries of fillings
> Time evolution of publication countries
> Main patent assignees
> Priority countries of main patent assignees
> Publication countries of main patent assignees
> World mapping of patent applications
> Time evolution of patent assignees
> Legal status of patents


Segment analysis 48

> Methodology for patent categorization 
- SAW, FBAR, SMR, duplexers, multiplexers, diplexers, temperature-compensated acoustic wave, flip-chip, TSV-based 3D integration, wafer level packaging
> For each segments:
- Definition
- Time evolution of patent publications
- Main patent applicants
- Key patents










Comparative study of IP players  74

> Degree of specialization
> IP leadership
> IP blocking potential
> IP enforcement potential
> IP position of key players
> Strength index
> Comparison of the patent portfolios
> Projection at T+5 years


Key patents 97

> Key patents related to SAW filters
> Key patents related to BAW filters 
> Granted patents near expiration date
> Patents involved in litigation



IP profile of key players 108

> Murata, Broadcom, Qualcomm/NXP, Skyworks, Taiyo Yuden, Qorvo, TDK, Akoustis, Resonant, Wisol, JCET and intellectual Ventures
> For each player:
- IP dynamics
- Legal status of patents
- Countries of fillings
- Key patents
- Recent patented technologies
- Patent-to-product mapping

Conclusion  185



KnowMade Presentation  188





About the authors

Knowmade is a Patent, Technology and Strategy consulting company involved in Microelectronics, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology and Life Sciences.

We provide Patent Search, Patent Landscape, Patent Analysis, Scientific Landscape, State of the Art, Technology Scouting, Technology Tracking, Alerts and Updates.

Our service offer consists of standard reports, custom studies & on-demand tracking, strategy consulting and training.

We combine information search services, scientific expertise, powerful analytics and visualization tools, and proprietary methodologies for analyzing patents and scientific information.

Knowmade supports research laboratories, industrial companies and investors in their business development. 












































  • IP trends, including time evolution of published patents and countries of patent filings
  • Patent segmentation by technology (SAW, BAW-FBAR, BAW-SMR) and device (duplexers, multiplexers, diplexers)
  • Current legal status of the patents
  • Ranking of main patent assignees by technological segments
  • Key patents and granted patents near expiration by technological segments
  • Focus on packaging and thermal drift compensation
  • IP position of key players, and relative strength of their patent portfolios
  • Patents linked to products of major market players
  • IP profile of key players
  • Excel database with all patents analyzed in the report,including technology segmentation