LED Forecast: LED lights will take 60% of market share in 10 years. LED patent giants will continue to use patent litigation & licensing to strengthen their market position in 2012.

LED lamps

Tonight, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Energy Chief Steven Chu will be on the National Mall for the inauguration of new, energy-efficient LED lights that will run from Third Street to 15th Street.

LEDs are set to take the world by storm. According to a recent study headed by Robert Weissbourd of the University of Chicago, LEDs will capture “60 percent of the market globally in the next ten years” due to the economic benefits of LEDs. Chairman Lee of Epistar Corp., the world’s top manufacturer of blue LED chips, agrees. Lee expects 2012 to be a growth year for LEDs due to improved luminosity and sharply reduced costs of current LEDs.

LED lighting solutions are also making inroads into the developing world.  With advances in LED efficiency, villagers in Mwiki, Kenya and elsewhere can now afford to generate bright LED lighting, powered by solar panels that produce only a couple of watts of power.

Given the wide array of opportunities in the LED space and the huge size of the worldwide lighting market, competition is fierce. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the LED patent space. Now, more than ever, LED giants are using their strong patent portfolios to create market barriers and command market share. Though a cross-license exists for basic LED chip technology, companies still have plenty of room for technological innovation and competition surrounding LED dimmers, LED lamp designs, LED tubes to replace fluorescent tubes, remote phosphor innovations, and new substrate technologies.

Just one look at the flourishing LED patent space is enough to quell most LED disbelievers. This past week, over 100 US and WIPO patent applications were published on a single day (January 26th). These patents range from Lunavation’s LED dimming devices (US20120019161A1) to Sharp’s substrate production methods (WO2012011258A1) to Konica Minolta’s new phosphor materials (US20120018761A1).

Last year’s LED patent litigation minefield will not be cleaned up anytime soon. The dispute between Osram, Samsung and LG Electronics continues to rage, threatening to stop sales of BMW and Audi in South Korea; both carmakers use Osram LED products.

Philips Electronics and Seoul Semiconductor were able to make peace, and in December ended a two-way infringement suit that began in May 4, 2011. The terms of the settlement are confidential, though we do know that the six LED and semiconductor patents in dispute include patents related to Seoul Semiconductor’s highly successful Acriche line of AC-driven LED solutions.

Given the high-stakes LED legal battles and attractive market conditions, what is the forecast for 2012?

  • Sylvania, Philips, and GE, big US lighting companies, will no longer place LEDs on the back-burner, and will instead begin to market LED lights aggressively.
  • Large LED companies will continue to strengthen their patent holdings, just as they did the past year, and the Osram, Samsung, and LG Electronics patent battle will expand to other companies in 2012.
  • Small players will flourish in the niche technology areas surrounding LED drivers and phosphor materials, but will be edged out of LED TV backlight displays.
  • Watch out for litigation among the following top players (and Nichia) in the patenting space (see chart below):

Top companies in LED technologies

Top companies in LED technologies by number of patent documents

IP Checkups will be at the Strategies In Light LED industry conference from February 7-9. Check out our exhibit or contact us today for a free demo of our CleanTech PatentEdge LED category and our Philips LED patent portfolio database.

About Lily Li

Lily Li joined IP Checkups in 2011 to co-manage the development, marketing and sales of the CleanTech PatentEdge solution. She also contributes her business and legal expertise to IP Checkups’ boutique patent analytic and research services team, helping companies align their IP strategies with their business objectives.

View all posts by Lily Li →

3 Responses to LED Forecast: LED lights will take 60% of market share in 10 years. LED patent giants will continue to use patent litigation & licensing to strengthen their market position in 2012.

  1. giuseppe Pastormerlo says:

    I am an italian import company of LED appliances and bulbs from China. I got news about the license to import LED in Europe. Is this license requested to the producer or also to the importer? Should the producer indicate in the documents which chips is making the LED ? Thanks for yoiur kind answer
    Giuseppe Pastormerlo

  2. bongani cibi says:

    I am quite Impressed about what am reading on your web site and I would like to be part of this technology. I am the founder and owner of lotavha renewable energy consulting & engineers cc In South Africa. Some companies In China has been offering me these types of lights but I since Ignored them because of better understanding partner with me for the South African market If you have the product.

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