As of January 2020, 53% of the published patent applications are still pending while 35% has been granted.
Yole estimates that as of Q1 2021, more than US$5 billion has already been spent on microLED development.
Commercialisation of the first microLED displays has begun with Vuzix’s new AR glasses featuring microLED microdisplays from JB Display Samsung’s modular 110”, 99” and 88” TVs with chips from PlayNitride.
Samsung has more than 130 new patent families, revolving for the most around its Display division’s self-assembled nanorod LED technology, often referred to as QNED . The patents show the technology maturing, and a commitment to tackle the challenges associated with moving QNED from the lab to the fab.
CSOT and BOE led patenting activity in 2019 and remained close to the top in 2020. With similar levels, startup PlayNitride, which raised another $50 million in 2020 to expand capacity, plays in the same league as leading panel makers and OEMs.
Aledia, which moved into a new R&D facility in 2019 and raised close to US$95 million in 2020 to build a fab, is also accelerating its IP effort, inching closer to historical leaders such as XDisplay. Panel makers that were missing have now entered our patent corpus including Japan Display, CEC Panda, HKC and Sakai Display.
In late 2019 and early 2020, Konka and Visionox announced plans to invest US$365 million and US$175 million respectively in mini and microLED development and production ramp ups.
Activity at Apple peaked in 2017. The acquisition of Tesoro indicates a focus that is shift or expansion toward enabling volume production rather than fundamental technology development.