Patent activity indicates 3D at home may be near, says report

Will 3D television find its place in the mainstream consumer TV market? The findings of a new report examining patent applications and granted patents since 2003 indicate that’s a strong possibility.

The report, “Coming Soon in 3-D…Everything! IP Market Report” from the IP Solutions business of Thomson Reuters, finds that between 2003 and 2008 patent activity related to 3D television grew 69 percent, with a total of 1034 unique inventions being filed in 2008. In the first two quarters of 2009, the report shows continued strength with 486 inventions filed.

A hotbed of inventions identified in the report is lenticular lenses. In 2008, some 30 separate patents were filed for developments related to the lenses, which are seen as key to mainstreaming 3D television into the living room.

The report also breaks down 3D-related patent activity in 2008 by company. Samsung was the company responsible for the single largest percentage of all 3D television patents with 4.15 percent, followed by Panasonic (2.22 percent), Toshiba (1.74 percent) and Seiko Epson with (1.54 percent.)

The report also identifies 3D ancillary products — not production technology — as the area of greatest innovation when it comes to 3D cinema. Between 2003 and 2008, patents were filed for 149 unique inventions. In the first half of 2009, 61 inventions were filed for 3D cinema. The leaders in patent activity in 2008 were Seiko Epson with 10 percent of all patents, Sony with 6 percent and RealD with 5.4 percent.

The report also examines patent activity related to 3D photography.