With a recent sharp rise in the number of patent applications for flexible display technologies, the market for various types of flexible displays is expected to broaden. According to IHS, 312 patents for flexible displays were filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2014; user-interface technology was the most active sector for patent applications. Flexible displays accounted for 62 percent of US display patent applications last year.
“Flexible displays are next-generation display panels fabricated on a paper-thin and flexible substrate, so that they can be bent and rolled without damage,” said Ian Lim, Senior Analyst of Intellectual Property for IHS Technology. “These types of displays, which lend themselves to far wider applications than conventional rigid displays, are projected to create an entirely new display market and replace existing non-flexible display solutions.”
Based on the latest information from the IHS Flexible Display Patent Report-which covers patents related to flexible displays issued in the US, in 2014, focusing on materials, manufacturing technology and applied devices-Samsung Electronics filed half of all new flexible display patents in the United States, followed by LG Electronics at 17 percent. Most of these patent applications focus on preventing image degradation, reducing device distortion and providing a range of user interfaces for bendable and foldable displays. Patents on parts and manufacturing technologies that primarily focus on the use of polyimide flexible substrates and metal nanowire in organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays were also popular.
“Patents for flexible display device technologies outnumber those for flexible display parts and manufacturing technologies in recent patents, indicating that the flexible display market is entering a period of maturing growth,” Lim said. “As manufacturer requirements for flexible displays grow, battles to acquire relevant patents will only become fiercer.”