In 2017, Knowmade forecasted an acceleration of the patenting activity related to acoustic wave filters (AWF), whose growth is being driven mostly by the developments of bulk acoustic wave (BAW) filters due to the new opportunities offered by 5G. Indeed, while the SAW-related IP landscape was already well established, the battle to become the next main IP player related to BAW devices was intense. Players like Taiyo Yuden and Broadcom had an advantage thank to their strong former patenting activity, but many smaller IP players had entered the landscape (Akoustis, Resonant, JCAP, etc.) or increased their patenting activity (Qualcomm, RF 360, Qorvo), making them serious IP challengers.
Today, the previous trend is confirmed. Indeed, the SAW-related patent landscape is still dominated by Murata, which has maintained a very high level of patenting activity related to SAW filters and their integration in complex modules. Like in 2017, IP competition is limited, but Skyworks, Taiyo Yuden, TDK, and Qualcomm have perpetuated a fair level of patenting activity and constitute the group of IP challengers. Despite being well established, recent SAW-related patenting activity describes some new trends regarding manufacturing and design of SAW filters. Indeed, in the view of 5G, all IP players involved in the development of SAW filters have started filing patents related to a complex module with a high level of integration. Wafer-level packaging has become a major packaging technology investigated by players. At the same time, IP players have strongly accelerated their patenting activity related to multiplexers that could support carrier aggregation operations. To bolster the development of highly integrated modules, IP players have improved their SAW filter designs. One main solution is the use of thin-film SAW, which reduces the substrate losses and thus increases the resonant frequency while improving thermal stability. This solution, originally developed by Murata, is now also asserted in Kyocera, Qualcomm, and Skyworks patents.
For the BAW-related IP landscape, recent developments are related to device manufacturing. Indeed, to fulfill 5G’s requirements, players are working to improve the electro-mechanical coupling in order to reach high frequency, while keeping low losses and large bandwidth. Among all the players involved in BAW filter development, Broadcom remains the most important. However, these last two years have seen the rise of Qualcomm and the emergence of Samsung Electro Mechanics. These three players drive today’s IP activity related to BAW. However, some smaller IP players such as Akoustis, Infineon, and Resonant have refined their development and now hold interesting IP portfolios.
Analysis of recent dynamics: what has happened in the last two years?
In this report, Knowmade has manually selected more than 7,500 patent families (inventions) related to SAW and BAW filters. We provide a general overview of today’s IP landscape trends and dynamics, as well as specific analysis related to the patenting activity of the last two years. Via manual segmentation, Knowmade delivers an understanding and analysis of the current evolutions of the two key technologies (SAW and BAW). This analysis shows an important difference between SAW and BAW IP activity. Indeed, on one hand, the development of SAW filters has reached a high maturity level, and players have begun exploring module design and architectures in order to keep improving their technologies for 5G applications. On the other hand, the BAW IP landscape’s dynamic shows that there is still room for BAW manufacturers to improve their devices by developing new manufacturing processes and BAW designs.
Main IP players’ portfolio analysis
This report provides a detailed comparison of the seven main IP players: Murata, TDK, Taiyo Yuden, Skyworks, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Qorvo. For each player, Knowmade highlights their strength and weaknesses, and provides information regarding their recent and future technology developments. Also, a detailed description and analysis of key patents is provided. Finally, System Plus Consulting and Knowmade have joined forces to provide a mapping of the current links between the main players’ products and patents.
The same analysis has been done for five IP newcomers: Samsung Electro Mechanics, Akoustis, Resonant, Infineon, and CETC.
Analysis of main technology developments
5G’s arrival has mainly impacted the patenting activity of AWF-related IP players. Indeed, the need to develop modules that can manage carrier aggregation and multi-band operations has pushed the main IP players to file patents related to complex filter systems (duplexers, multiplexers, etc.) and their integration into one module. In this report, Knowmade has thoroughly analyzed the IP dynamics and trends related to packaging and modules in order to realize the current technological developments and understand how players are addressing the issues related to the integration of complex acoustic filters into small, cost-effective modules.
Report’s main assets
Understanding the key players’ patented technologies and current IP strategies
More than 960 patent applicants are involved in the RF acoustic wave filter patent landscape. This report reveals the IP position of key players through a detailed analysis of their patent portfolios. We also describe these players’ patented technologies, their IP strategy, and their ability to limit other firms’ patenting activity and freedom-to-operate.
Analyzing IP players’ position on promising applications and developed technologies
This report furnishes an understanding of IP players’ positions on promising applications. Main IP players and key patents are presented for each segment, along with an understanding of the current technical challenges addressed in the patents.
Identifying and understanding key patents related to RF acoustic wave filters
This report offers a detailed analysis of key patents (seminal, blocking) related to SAW and BAW filters. Furthermore, for each segment a selection of seminal, blocking, and most promising patents is highlighted.
Useful Excel patent database
This report also includes an Excel database with the >18,500 patents and patent applications analyzed in this study. This useful patent database allows for multi-criteria searches and includes patent publication numbers, hyperlinks to the original documents, priority date, title, abstract, patent assignees, patent’s current legal status, and technological and application segments.