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LED Patents Monopolise III-Nitride Technology

From April 2012 to late March 2013, roughly 350 patent applicants related to AlGaN, InGaN and GaN were filed. These were by organisations based in Japan, Korea, USA and China
Group III nitride semiconductors are recognised as having great potential for short wave length emission (LEDs, LDs, UV detectors) and high-temperature electronics devices.

The field of III-N semiconductors has shown intensive patenting activity since the early 1990s, with a substantial increase during the past decade.

Today, there are more than 27,000 patent families filed relating to this technology. The most active companies are Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung, Sumitomo and Hitachi. The patents related to LED technology account for more than 40 percent of filings, followed by those related to GaN substrates (5 percent) and RF & Advanced Electronics of less than 5 percent.

This is according to Research and Markets' report, "III-Nitrides 2012-2013 Patent Landscape."

More than 1,570 new patent families were published between early April 2012 and late March 2013. They were filed by about 350 patent applicants mainly located in Japan, Korea, USA and China.

The main patent applicants are Sumitomo, Toshiba, Samsung, Sharp and Mitsubishi which represent together almost 25 percent of the patents published in the last 12 months.

The academic organisations account for almost 15 percent of new patent filings and are mainly located in China.

The data set considered in the report was segmented by the type of application (Substrates, Epi-wafers, LED & Laser, Power Devices, RF & Advanced Electronics, Photovoltaics, Sensors-Detectors-MEMS).

About 45 percent of new patent families published the last 12 months are related to LED technology. These were mainly filed by Toshiba, LG and Samsung, while Chinese companies are increasing their patent activity (Tongfang, Sanan Optoelectronics).

The patents claiming an invention related to III-N Substrates and Power Devices represent 20 percent and 14 percent of new filings respectively. The patents dedicated to Substrate technology were mainly filed by Sumitomo, Hitachi and Mitsubishi, while University of California and Soitec filed 15 and 8 new patents respectively.

The patents dedicated to Power Devices were mainly filed by Advanced Power Device Research Association, Samsung and Sumitomo and the patent filings remain dominated by Japanese companies.

Numerous patent applications published this year are offered for sale or for license. This year, the most relevant offers are the ones from the University of California (e.g. Ammonothermal growth technique, CAVET for High Power Application, Defect reduction of semi-polar III-N, GaN substrates and III-N tandem solar cells.

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