MicroLED Displays: Patents, Facebook And China

An interview of Eric Virey, Principal Analyst, Technology & Market, Displays at Yole Développement (Yole) made by Rebecca Pool from – As microLED patent numbers sky-rocket, Eric Virey, senior industry analyst at Yole Développement, tells Compound Semiconductor what could happen next.

Yole Développement research indicates that nearly 9000 patents relating to micro-LEDs have been filed by some 480 organisations – where did this all start?

The concept of microLEDs was developed in the early 2000s, with a handful of companies and research organisations showing an interest. But it was LuxVue’s acquisition by Apple in 2014 that really put the microLED on the map. From that moment, the technology started getting the attention of established display makers as well as other OEMs, with patents then starting to get filed. You typically have a six to 18 months delay between patent filing and publication, and so we have seen this huge acceleration in patent activity from around 2017.

Will we continue to see this acceleration in the number of microLED patent applications?

It remains to be seen if the Covid-19 pandemic has temporarily slowed applications but overall, I’m expecting the trend to continue. We’ll have to wait and see if exponential growth continues, but it’s definitely going to keep increasing as there is such strong momentum right now. This might be a little bit of a bubble or self-fulfilling prophecy as so many companies see competitors working on microLEDs, and think ‘we need to invest in microLED as well’.

What’s the situation in China on micro-LED patents?