Patents: Sony vs. Intel

In the end of 2020, there were reports that Sony had acquired a number of Intel patents. An IP analytics blog LexisNexis publishes its analysis of these patents:

“The respective reassignment document lists 35 simple patent families with active US patents. Looking at the drawings shows that the portfolio comprises various technologies like packaging, semiconductor process, systems, computer memory, and image projection. Surprisingly, there are several first page drawings which points to gate-all-around transistor (GAA) technologies, the expected next transistors technology.

This finding was not expected: Sony is not known to be active in advanced CMOS transistor technologies like GAA, or at least not obviously known.

…a quick screening shows that 10 patent families are about to gate-all-around transistors and 3 families relate to finFET transistors. On its face value, the described structures and methods even resemble gate-all-around structures which are published in the literature.

Sony ranks sixth with a small but strong GAA portfolio. Difference between the portfolio size (number of simple patent families) and the portfolio strength (Patent Asset Index) is remarkable: The portfolio strength is more than 10-times larger than the Portfolio Size. This ratio demonstrates the high average quality, measured by the PatentSight Competitive Impact, of Sony’s gate-all-around patents, as the Patent Asset Index is the product of Competitive Impact and Portfolio Size.

BusinessKorea believes that Intel GAA patents will be used in future Sony image sensor designs.