The global LED demand in 2004 was put at US$5.4 billion, with Taiwan enjoying a 22.7% share of global production by country or region. Japan dominated with 51.3%, with the US at 12% and Europe at 9%.
Taiwan's LED production grew by 42% and 40% in 2002 and 2003, respectively, but grew by "only" 23% in 2004. The growth burst corresponding with the onset of production by Taiwanese companies of InGaN-based blue LEDs. However, the industry was unable to move smoothly into the production of white LEDs, which are built using blue chips.
Japanese LED manufacturer Nichia filed a lawsuit against Taiwanese companies that were allegedly infringing its patents, and Korea's Seoul Semiconductor was also rumoured to have filed a lawsuit.
However, three Taiwanese manufacturers - Everlight, Lite-On and Harvatek - have licensed white LED technology from Osram Opto Semiconductors, and AOT recently completed an agreement to use phosphor material supplied by Intematix.
IEK also said that while there is an over-capacity for the production of lower end blue LEDs, only three chip makers in Taiwan - Epistar, Formosa Epitaxy and Arima Optoelectronics - offer high-brightness blue LEDs.