Apple and its subsidiary LuxVue Technology have applied for more than 30 patents of Micro-LED technology in South Korea over the last 10 years with the apparent aim of keeping Samsung and LG in check, as the companies may use the next-generation panel technology in their new devices.
According to the government, Apple applied for 11 patents, while LuxVue Technology applied for 23 patents for Micro-LED technology over the last 10 years in Korea. LuxVue Technology is a Micro-LED firm acquired by Apple in 2014 for the development of the next-generation technology.
Micro-LED technology (LG Display)
The patents Apple has applied for are related to Micro-LED’s chip structure, the method of picking and placing Micro-LED to plates and the controlling system.
“Apple’s application here appears to be due to the presence of Korean tech firms, including Samsung and LG, which may use Micro-LED panel for their devices in the future,” said Kim Jong-chan, chief of the Korean Intellectual Property Office’s display device screening team.
Apple appears to want to reduce its reliance on Asian rivals Samsung and LG, which dominate the global organic light-emitting diode market. Apple’s new iPhone X uses Samsung’s OLED panels.
According to Bloomberg on Monday, Apple is making significant investment in the development of next-generation Micro-LED screens, using a secret manufacturing facility near its California headquarters to design and produce its own device displays.
Samsung and LG are also gearing up for the development of the new panel technology.
During the same period, Samsung Electronics applied for 24 patents of Micro-LED technology in Korea. Samsung Display applied for 24 patents, LG Electronics 29 patents and LG Display 35 patents.
Early this year, Samsung Electronics unveiled the world’s first 146-inch television using Micro-LED panels during the Consumer Electronics Show. In response, LG Electronics also reportedly plans to unveil its Micro-LED display during the IFA consumer electronics show in September in partnership with LG Display and LG Innotek.
Micro-LED screens feature miniature light-emitting diode arrays, which make future gadgets slimmer and brighter, and consume less power.
The number of Micro-LED-related patent applications rose 10 times from 12 in 2012 to 120 last year in Korea. Overall, the total number over the last 10 years stood at 358, with the number of applications from Korean large firms at 119 and foreign firms at 116.
By Shin Ji-hye (email@example.com)