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MEMS gyroscopes are currently a very hot business. Investigating the patent situation is essential to understanding the present business climate and anticipating future developments.
The MEMS gyroscope patent landscape is heating up!
The gyroscope market is driven by mobile applications, where until recently only two players, STMicroelectronics (ST) and InvenSense, were competing. Now, many companies are present. The first patent disputes to develop over the last few years (linked to Wacoh’s patents) or that are currently occurring (ST vs. InvenSense) signal the beginning of a fight for gyro and inertial combo market ownership.
This report represents a link to the technical trends Yole Développement has observed in the industry. Comparisons and matching between existing product process flows (reconstituted from teardowns) and related patents are provided. In particular, a case study on InvenSense’s MPU-9150 9-axis sensor is included.
As illustrated by the aforementioned disputes, (which are detailed in this report), IP is critical in this area; thus, the link between IP and market evolution is critical as well. One of this report’s most important findings is that the focus has shifted to the software side, where considerable value can be created. Indeed, an increasing number of companies with different value chain positions are developing functionalities based on MEMS gyroscopes, along with related IP.
About 200 players are involved in MEMS gyroscope technologies, but the top 10 represent 63% of the patents filed!
Panasonic and Murata lead the way. Both were early players in the industry, with piezo/ceramicstyle gyroscopes.
Other players such as Analog Devices, Robert Bosch, ST and InvenSense developed their technologies based on silicon substrates and the capacitive detection principle. It’s important to note that these players’ MEMS portfolios are generally much larger than what’s included in this report, since many of their patents are generic publications which can apply to many types of MEMS components, and not specifically to gyros.
More information on that report at http://www.i-micronews.com/reports/MEMS-Gyroscope-Patent-Investigation/1/366/