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LED Patent Landscape

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Contact - George Shea, Shea Communications, LLC
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Content Overview

  • LED Patent Landscape
  • Analysis of LED Patents
  • - Patent Categories & Distribution
    - Top Patent Holders
    - Seminal Patents
  • Key Players in LED Patent Landscape
  • - Samsung, LG, Philips, GE, Cree
  • Patent Licensing & Litigations in LED


The story of David and Goliath unfolded nearly 3,000 years ago, but it is an appropriate description of the current state of the global LED lighting industry. Small niche companies are engaging in fierce competition for shelf space with large global corporations, each one more determined than the next to bring to market the lighting technology of the future.

LED lighting stands to benefit from a paradigm shift to household technologies that are sustainable, networked, personalized, and smart. LED lighting is also having a significant impact in diverse areas like residential and commercial lighting, street lighting, and digital communication. Another key application of LED technology is to improve the quality of displays in monitors and mobile devices. Analysts predict an industry growth rate greater than 54% in 2013, reaching $25 billion in annual global sales. In fact, LED technology is expected to play an enormous role in the surging growth of the semiconductor sector during the next several years. On the precipice of a sea change, which companies are positioned to reap the most benefits: David or Goliath?

One indicator of future success in the marketplace is the strength of the patent portfolios owned by the competing companies. This is especially true in the LED lighting industry, where aggressive patent prosecution, licensing, and litigation practices have become commonplace in recent years. There are currently more than 22,000 granted U.S. patents relating to LED technologies, most of which were filed in the last 5-10 years. Major players in the LED industry are currently involved, on an average, in almost three active litigations per company, and in numerous additional licensing agreements. By all appearances, the LED industry’s patenting practices have matured even before the technology itself has.

This report examines the current LED patent landscape and offers analysis of existing patent holdings of various companies. There are companies, such as Lumileds (now owned by Philips) and Cree that have been heavily involved in R&D activity since the early 2000s. Their patent portfolios are mid-sized but contain many seminal patents, which increases their value. Then there are global electronics suppliers, like Samsung and LG, which have massive R&D budgets but have only entered the LED lighting market in the last 5 years. Their patent portfolios are typically large but contain relatively fewer seminal patents. Some of today’s market leaders, such as GE and Osram fall short in both - the size and strength of their patent portfolios.


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