Intellectual property is central to FPC’s strategy so a close eye is kept on the market for possible infringement of the patents listed; this includes control of any patent rights arising through cooperative work. FPC’s core technology is now very well supported by patents granted, and a robust strategy is proposed for the protection of future property in value-added technology development. Project design work for customers’ technical solutions will be embedded in different ‘IP-blocks’ to which the sensor or algorithm is integrated, making it impossible for customers to copy and further develop designs without the FPC’s involvement.

Sensor patent, architecture

The sensor architecture covers the method of real time programming of sensor matrix function. This solution for the sensor architecture allows each pixel element to be set into different modes of operation while obtaining the fingerprint image. By alternating the operation mode of the pixel elements the image measurement technique and image readout procedure can be optimised to obtain best image quality for the identification and verification of the fingerprint. The PCT, US and European patent applications for sensor architecture have been granted by 2004.

Sensor patent, pixel element

The main claims of this application focus on the physical design of the pixel elements in the sensor ASIC and the readout conversion. The design of the sensor pixel element and associated conversion principle results in an extremely sensitive sensor amplifier with low internal noise generation. The advantages are that the dynamic profile of a fingerprint can be measured with high sensitivity, accurate contrast resolution, and at a high readout speed. It also becomes possible to coat the sensor with a thick, protective coating, and this is a great advantage in the sensor package integration, when the environmental and durability requirements are demanding. These fundamental design features make possible a robust and user-friendly biometric solution. The Company has received a positive result in the international examination report on its PCT application.

Algorithm patent

The software used in registration and verification contains mathematical descriptions – known as algorithms – by which millions of operations can be carried out in a split second. In order for this to be done in the most secure and effective manner the algorithm code has also been written for the Company’s own microprocessors. The algorithms are based on details in the entire fingerprint pattern using a method adapted from the science of image processing, but one original to this application. A patent application for these algorithms was filed at the Swedish Patent and Registration Office and was granted in November 2000. An international PCT application has also been filed. In 2005 the European Patent Office granted the algorithm patent. An application filed in the USA during 2004 was also granted in 2005.

Swipe sensor methodology patent

The granted US and European patent for the swipe sensor methodology describes a system based on a sensor that reads partial images from a moving fingerprint, and where the sensor surface is considerably smaller than the fingerprint itself. The information extracted from each partial fingerprint image is read for later verification then erased from memory. This method makes it possible to store the individual’s biometric identity without building up the complete image of the fingerprint.

Packaging patent

The approved packaging patent describes a way to use the same coating for protection of the sensor surface and the bond wires used for the electrical interconnection with respect to ESD, environmental conditions and mechanical abrasion.