9-Axis MEMS IMU Technology and patent infringement risk Analysis 2014

STMicroelectronics (LSM9DS0), Bosch Sensortec (BMX055), InvenSense (MPU-9250) 
Publication Sep. 2014

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Report’s Key Features

• PDF > 80 slides
• Find the technical and manufacturing process similarities and differences of LSM9DS0, BMX055 and MPU-9250 9-axis IMU components.
• Identify key patents held by STMicroelectronics, Bosch Sensortec and InvenSense, and related to the target product features.
• Find the link between patented technological solutions and marketed products.
• Identify the potential infringing parties and help to find evidence of use.
• Identify potential risks of patent infringement and identify the patents which require a more in depth legal assessment.

MEMS technologies are regularly analyzed by KnowMade. Find all our works.


Motion sensing combo sensor is a very hot topic, both in terms of market potential and competition among the players. The growth of the applications of 6 and 9 degrees of freedom (DoF) devices is both pushing the leaders (STMicroelectronics, Bosch Sensortec and InvenSense) and their challengers (AKM, Kionix, mCube, Freescale, Alps, Kionix…) to develop innovative technical and manufacturing solutions, and, in parallel of course, to have the right patents to protect their inventions. What are the similarities and the differences in term of technical and manufacturing choices at the devices level ? What is the related patent situation? For the first time, Knowmade (specialized in patent analysis) and System Plus Consulting (specialized in reverse engineering and reverse costing) are joining their unique added value in order to combined technology and manufacturing analysis with patent claims understanding to highlight the risks of patent infringement between STMicroelectronics, Bosch Sensortec and InvenSense in the field of 9 axis MEMS inertial measurement units (IMU). As the 9 axis IMUs are just starting to be adopted by the market, it is the right time now to understand what could happen between these 3 companies and how to differentiate patents and claims compared to the leaders. 2012 was seen by many as a turnkey year for consumer combo sensors (6 and 9 axis sensors). Since then, many developments have occurred and the market acceptance of combo solutions has been extremely quick. According to Yole Développement, the combo sensor market is estimated to be $446M in 2013, growing to $1.97B in 2018. This represents 21% of the global inertial consumer market in 2013, and will grow to an impressive 66% by 2018. In this playground, STMicroelectronics (ST), Bosch Sensortec (Bosch) and InvenSense are the 3 market leaders in the inertial consumer sensors with more than 50% of market share. In a patent infringement action, the potential sales volume plays a major role for assessing the damage award. Thereby, this study is naturally focused on the newest 9-axis inertial MEMS components supplied by these market leaders: LSM9DS0 (STMicroelectronics), BMX055 (Bosch Sensortec) and MPU-9250 (InvenSense). Moreover, there exists a history of patent disputes between these 3 leading players. This report provides an overview of technology data and manufacturing process of LSM9DS0, BMX055 and MPU-9250 9- axis IMU components. A comparative study of the technology and manufacturing process of 9-axis IMU components supplied by STMicroelectronics, Bosch Sensortec and InvenSense has been performed in order to highlight the technical similarities and differences of the product features.

A link between products and patents

A set of product features, mainly related to the accelero/gyro die, has been selected regarding their interest in terms of patent study:

  • Al-Ge eutectic bonding process (Cap/Sensor, Sensor/IC)
  • Accelero/Gyro single chip and the required multiple sealed cavities
  • 3-axis gyroscope single structure (sensing area)
  • Hybrid MEMS with a vertically integrated electronics and a wafer-scale hermetic packaging
  • SiN as protective layer in sensor area (micromachined layers)

Key patents held by STMicroelectronics, Bosch Sensortec and InvenSense related to these technology features have been identified. For each product feature, the links between the patented technologies and the target product have been established.


Highlight patent infringement risk

The potential infringing parties of the target product have been identified. The contents of patents have been compared with actual technological solutions used in the marketed target products LSM9DS0 (STMicroelectronics), BMX055 (Bosch Sensortec) and MPU-9250 (InvenSense), in order to highlight, for each 9-axis inertial MEMS component, the potential risks of patent infringement and related patents requiring more in-depth legal assessments. This report provides discussions on the potential risks of patent infringement by comparing relevant patent claim elements to the target product features. We have identified several potential risks of patent infringements in some technology features from target products LSM9DS0, BMX055 and MPU-9250. Key patents requiring more in-depth legal assessment have been identified.


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