Major companies have patented variety of solutions to protect their own AiP structures and manufacturing processes. What are the white spaces left? Is the freedom to operate hampered?

SOPHIA ANTIPOLIS, France – June 21, 2021 | Smaller, denser, cost efficient and high performances. These are some of the challenges that the RF industry must address to fully exploit 5G. To answer these criteria, all the RF industry has to develop new technologies from the material to the integrator. Packaging makers are also impacted by this revolution. Packaging of 5G systems needs integration of RF, analog and digital functions along with passives and other system components in a single module. These systems exemplify the heterogeneous integration trend which becomes more important for 5G. Reducing the size and losses involves putting closer the transceiver and the front-end module, and this can be achieved by integration antennas with the RF IC.

In this context, Knowmade is releasing a new patent landscape report related to antenna integrated in package (AiP, AoP). Knowmade’s analysts have selected and analyzed more than 1,500 patents, representing more than 600 patent families (inventions) filed by more than 140 different organizations. Despite the small number of involved entities, the patent landscape is already well established, and a strong competition is taking place at all levels. Major semiconductor foundries and OSATs lead the landscape but entities from all links of the supply chain have been filing patent applications and are strengthening their IP positions in all key regions (China, USA, Europe).

Foundries/OSATs (SJSemi/SMIC, TSMC, SEMCO, ASE, SPIL) but also IDMs/fabless (MediaTek, Qualcomm, Murata, TI, Skyworks) and OEMs (Huawei, Vivo mobile, Oppo mobile) have filed antenna-in-package (AiP) related patents to protect their structures/designs and manufacturing methods. Over the last 2 years several Chinese companies have entered the IP landscape with a focus on wafer level packaging approach for integrating antenna. Among the IP newcomers we find Vivo Mobile, OPPO Mobile, Shanghai Xianfang Semiconductor (subsidiary of NCAP), Powertech Technology, Microsilicon Technology, T-Ray Technology, Sky Semiconductor Technology, Xinhua Microelectronics, Unisoc.

Figure 1: Main patent assignees in the antenna-in-package patent landscape.

In such a competitive landscape, variety of solutions to design or manufacture antenna systems in package have already been described in patents. The described AiP technologies attests of well mastered solutions that are already available on the market and where the IP “white-spaces” will be quickly limited. “Each player has developed and protected its own AiP structures and manufacturing processes to answer the different requirements of next-generation handset RF package. Identifying their main AiP structures and addressed challenges are key to understand their position and evaluate the risk”, says Paul Leclaire, PhD, Technology and Patent Analyst RF & Wireless communications at Knowmade. “Asserting its owned patents against infringing products is easier with patents claiming an AiP structure/design, and patent litigation on such aspects will be thus inevitable in a growing 5G market”, adds Paul Leclaire.

Figure 2: Fan-out packaging: market players versus intellectual property (IP) players.

The report provides a clear overview of the most active assignees as well as a presentation of IP newcomers. A patent segmentation reveals their technical position, e.g. WLP, Fan-Out, Flip Chip or antenna type. SJSemi, Intel and TSMC have the most enforceable portfolio. Over the last few years, SJSemi, TSMC, Samsung, MediaTek, Huawei, AAC Technologies and NCAP have been increasing their patenting activity. In this report, Knowmade provides a detailed analysis of the main IP players, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses and providing information about their technology developments and key patents.

Knowmade is releasing this new Antenna-in-Package Patent Landscape report to offer a complementary understanding of the AiP competitive landscape, its evolution through, and the strategic and technological paths the leading companies and newcomers are following for integrating antennas in the RF package. All year long, Knowmade’s team investigate patenting activities related to RF devices and advanced packaging to get a deep understanding of the technology and intellectual property evolution, and their potential business impact. This Antenna-in-Package report is part of a collection of IP reports and IP monitors including RF Acoustic Wave Filters Patent Landscape, RF Acoustic Wave Filters Patent Monitor, and RF Front-End Modules for Cellphones Patent Landscape.

KnowMade provides you with in-depth patent reports about RF and Wireless communication technologies.

Press contact
Le Drakkar, 2405 route des Dolines, 06560 Valbonne Sophia Antipolis, France

About our analysts
Paul works for Knowmade in the fields of RF technologies, Wireless communications and MEMS sensors. He holds a PhD in Micro and Nanotechnology from the University of Lille (France), in partnership with IEMN in Villeneuve-d’Ascq and CRHEA-CNRS in SophiaAntipolis (France). Paul previously worked in innovation strategy consulting firm as Consultant.

About Knowmade
Knowmade is a Technology Intelligence and IP Strategy consulting company specialized in analysis of patents and scientific information. The company helps innovative companies and R&D organizations to understand their competitive landscape, follow technology trends, and find out opportunities and threats in terms of technology and patents.
Knowmade’s analysts combine their strong technology expertise and in-depth knowledge of patents with powerful analytics tools and methodologies to turn patents and scientific information into business-oriented report for decision makers working in R&D, Innovation Strategy, Intellectual Property, and Marketing. Our experts provide prior art search, patent landscape analysis, scientific literature analysis, patent valuation, IP due diligence and freedom-to-operate analysis. In parallel the company proposes litigation/licensing support, technology scouting and IP/technology watch service.
Knowmade has a solid expertise in Compound Semiconductors, Power Electronics, Batteries, RF Technologies & Wireless Communications, Solid-State Lighting & Display, Photonics, Memories, MEMS & Solid-State Sensors/Actuators, Semiconductor Manufacturing, Packaging & Assembly, Medical Devices, Medical Imaging, Microfluidics, Biotechnology, Pharmaceutics, and Agri-Food.