MEMS Gyroscope Patent Investigation

  • April 2013
  • -
  • Yole Developpement


The gyroscope market is driven by mobile applications, where until recently only two players, STMicroelectronics (ST) and InvenSense, were competing. Now, many companies are present. The first patent disputes to develop over the last few years (linked to Wacoh’s patents) or that are currently occurring (ST vs. InvenSense) signal the beginning of a fight for gyro and inertial combo market ownership.

This report represents a link to the technical trends Yole Développement has observed in the industry. Comparisons and matching between existing product process flows (reconstituted from teardowns) and related patents are provided. In particular, a case study on InvenSense’s MPU- 9150 9-axis sensor is included.

As illustrated by the aforementioned disputes, (which are detailed in this report), IP is critical in this area; thus, the link between IP and market evolution is critical as well. One of this report’s most important findings is that the focus has shifted to the software side, where considerable value can be created. Indeed, an increasing number of companies with different value chain positions are developing functionalities based on MEMS gyroscopes, along with related IP.


About 200 players are involved in MEMS gyroscope technologies, but the top 10 represent 63% of the patents filed!

Panasonic and Murata lead the way. Both were early players in the industry, with piezo/ceramicstyle gyroscopes.

Other players such as Analog Devices, Robert Bosch, ST and InvenSense developed their technologies based on silicon substrates and the capacitive detection principle. It’s important to note that these players’ MEMS portfolios are generally much larger than what ’s included in this report, since many of their patents are generic publications which can apply to many types of MEMS components, and not specifically to gyros.

This report provides an in-depth patent portfolio analysis of the three assignees which Yole Développement identifies as today’s industry leaders: ST, InvenSense and Robert Bosch. For each company, Yole Développement’s analysis highlights the following areas:

• Patent evolution chart
• Analysis of patent geography, inventors, legal status and citations
• Top patents


For our MEMS gyroscope patent analysis, more than 4,700 patent families were screened. 53% of them were classifi ed as relevant or related, and worthy of further study. A closer look revealed that intense patenting activity began in the late 80’s, stabilized in the 90’s and then increased over the past 10 years. The fi rst MEMS gyroscope patents are quite old and the technology has evolved greatly in the past few years, so understanding the most recent evolutions is essential.

“In domain” patents are mostly fi led by fi rms and universities located in Japan and the uSA. However, a signifi cant portion of the actual business is done by German (Robert Bosch) and Italian (STMicroelectronics) companies. The lesson: generating patents doesn’t mean generating business!

This report also provides an Excel database of all the relevant patents Yole Développement has analyzed, allowing for multi-criteria searching. The criteria are similar to those used for the technological segmentation:

• Patent information
- Patent publication number
- PDF document link
- Oldest priority date
- Title
- Assignee
- Patent potential Ranking
- Number of citing patent families
• Technological segmentation
- MEMS design & process
- Circuit & IC design
- Application, Software

This complete patent landscape description is included in the report and provides all background materials utilized for the MEMS gyroscope patent landscape analysis. Also included is a complete analysis of patents’ geographical origins, companies and R&D organizations which have been granted patents, historical data on companies’ patent applications over the last 40 years, patent inventors, expiration status, R&D collaborations, and much more.

The comb drive design in silicon MEMS is a winning technology approach, allowing for miniaturization, cost reduction and a high level of integration. As this capacitive detection approach is now mature, it’s important to consider the latest IP activity since radical technology approaches will need developing.

A segmentation was created and a ranking of the most important patents was undertaken to identify:

• Top-cited patents: historically important in the past
• Top-ranked patents: important for the future

30 key patents are detailed, and a ranking of their strengths and weaknesses is provided. The ranking is based on Yole Développement’s unique methodology, which evaluates 13 parameters:

• Description
• Legal status
• Independent claims
• Geographical protection
• Life expectancy
• Competitor type
• Applicant type
• Technology infringement capability
• Innovation intensity of application fi eld
• Innovation type
• Market size
• Application filed
• Geographical Application


Through requests made to Micropatent and several other databases, Yole Développement has developed a unique methodology (described in the sample) for defining not only the patent landscape’s technical segmentation, but also which patents are the most innovative, either for future preparation or for use in current production. By blending its technical knowledge, business acumen and patent search abilities, Yole Développement has created a report that provides unique analysis and tremendous added-value.

Note: This data was collected in January 2013. The results corresponding to the years 2011 and 2012 may not be final, since a significant number of patent applications filed during those years may not be published yet.


• Overview of “who owns what” in terms of patents for MEMS gyroscope sensors and gyro-based applications, plus a dedicated focus on the most active top players
• Presentation of MEMS gyroscope’s current industrial and business status
• Definition and delivery of a database containing all relevant patents, with technological segmentation
• Identify key patents and the owners of these patents
• Identif y structuring IP concepts from a technological and an industrial point-of-view, leading to business and strategic conclusions
• Analyze the link between patents, technology implementation and business status


• Gyroscope market’s status and technological developments
- MEMS gyroscope market and 2013 competition
- Technology trends for front-end manufacturing, assembly and software
• Statistical analysis of existing IP
- Patent landscape overview
- Top industrial and academic players
- Details on geography, inventors, legal status, etc.
- Collaborations mapping
- Segmentation by patent type (MEMS design/IC/ Software)
• Patent ranking and in-depth analysis of 30 key patents selected by Yole Développement
• Focus on STMicroelectronics, InvenSense and Bosch patent portfolios
• Analysis of the link between IP and industry trends


American GNC, Analog Devices, Boeing, CEA, Crossbow, Denso, Draper Lab, Hillcrest Laboratories,
Honeywell, InvenSense, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, Litef, Memsic, Movea, Murata, Northrop
Grumman, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Ricoh, Robert Bosch, Samsung, Seiko Epson, Sensor Platforms,
Sony, STMicroelectronics, Systron Donner Inertial, Thales, Thomson, Tsinghua University, Univ.
Shanghai, University Of California, Wacoh, XSens and many more!

Table Of Contents


• Introduction

• Survey context and frame
• Definitions and glossary
• Objective and methodology
• Executive summary 18

• 1. MEMS gyroscope status: market and technology trends 42

> Market trends
> Competitive landscape
> Gyroscope design and detection principle
> Technical trends in front-end and assembly
> Software trends: gyroscope-based functionalities

• 2. MEMS gyroscope patent landscape 97

> Evolution of MEMS gyro patent publication timeline
> Geographical distribution of patent filings
> Legal status of patent filings
> Top 10 IPC classes
> Top 15 patent applicants
> Top 10 academic assignees
> Assignee collaborative network
> Top 10 inventors, and latest inventors
> Inventor/assignee collaborative network and assignee citations network
> Summary of top 15 patent assignees’ patent portfolio

• 3. Segmentation and patent ranking 117

> Technology segmentation and top patent assignees for each segment
> Patent rankings

• 4. MEMS gyroscope business leaders’ patent portfolio analysis 131

> STMicroelectonics /InvenSense / Bosch
- Patent Filling Evolution/Geographical Analysis/Top Inventors/ Legal Status/ Citation Analysis/Top Patents

• 5. Analysis: Link between IP, technical trends and market trends 157

> Link between IP and market evolution
> Link between IP and reverse engineering of products currently on the market

6. Analysis of key patents 180

> MEMS design and process - Analysis of 14 key patents
> Circuit and IC Design - Analysis of 6 key patents
> Application/software - Analysis of 10 key patents

• Conclusion 214

> Appendix - Yole Developpement presentation

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