Tesla Motors made big headlines when CEO Elon Musk announced a few weeks ago that he would open up all of the automaker's patents. The response has been interesting, to say the least, with some electric vehicle advocates and investor groups praising the news and others saying that what Musk did wasn't all that big a deal, in the end.
When Tesla CEO Elon Musk says that he's thinking about something, you definitely need to pay attention because it's likely something big. In an eloquently worded press release (a very rare thing indeed) Musk explains reason after reason why Tesla is opening up all of its patents, effective immediately.
The remains of Fisker Automotive - which might not even include the name and logo - are supposed to finally be sold off tomorrow, but the scene before the auction is anything but clear. As as reminder, the two bidding parties are Wanxiang and Hybrid Tech Holdings. Hybrid Tech was denied an emergency motion in court last week that would have lifted an earlier ruling that limited how much debt it can use to try and buy Fisker. The limit remains at $25 million.
Samsung isn't talking, but a number of the South Korean electronics giant's recent patents are speaking volumes. The company has filed a number of patents for technology that could be used in electric vehicles, making many wonder if the company, which already makes batteries for plug-in vehicles, may go whole hog and start building EVs, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Toyota beat all its carmaker competitors for the title of most US patent filings last year, hands down. The Intellectual Property Owners Association reported that Toyota had 1,491 patents issued in 2012 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. So, what is Toyota doing to generate that many patents?
A recent survey by JP Patent Publication shows that, from 1980 to mid-2011, General Motors led the way with the highest aggregate score (total patent points) for fuel cell technology-related patents. In second place is Honda followed by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Plug-in vehicles are all the rage right now – witness the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and Ford Transit Connect Electric all coming to market between now and the end of the year. Unfortunately, electric and hybrid vehicles carry a significant price premium over conventional models (most of the time) so automakers like Ford are looking for more cost-effective improvements that can be applied to millions of conventionally powered vehicles.
Over the years, General Motors has not often been seen as a forward-thinking company when it comes to green technologies. Sure, the Chevrolet Chevette was one of the first American cars to crack the 30 miles per gallon mark (the diesel model got north of 50 mpg). True, the EV-1 experiment showed some promising results (or, depending on who you ask, helped kill the electric car). But for the most part, The General has put most of its blood sweat and tears into basic, and not particularly breakthr
Toyota is the undisputed world leader in hybrid vehicle sales, so it unsurprisingly follows that the company dominates the charts when it comes to patents for "electric propulsion vehicles." A recent study conducted by the Japan Patent Office on global trends in the EV industry found that 76 percent of the 16,670 patents filed for electric propulsion vehicles (here defined as pure electric vehicles, hybrids and fuel cell vehicles, excluding railroad vehicles) came from Japanese companies.
Toyota is the undisputed world leader in hybrid vehicle sales, so it's no surprise the company dominates the charts when it comes to patents for "electric propulsion vehicles." A recent study conducted by the Japan Patent Office on global trends in the EV industry found that 76 percent of the 16,670 patents filed for electric propulsion vehicles (here defined as pure electric vehicles, hybrids and fuel cell vehicles, yet excluding railroad vehicles) came from Japanese companies.
Take a look at the left column of the chart above. As displayed in a new report called "Automaker Patent Assets Intelligence Report" by PatentCafe.com, this chart shows that GM's green tech patent focus is far, far smaller (as a percent of total portfolio) when compared to the rest of the auto industry. Note, though, that this chart is based on 2007 data and the "green tech" category isn't exactly perfectly defined. PatentCafe is still willing to make the following claim:
Twelve years ago, Jack Evans (founder and namesake of Evans Cooling) went to court with the claim that General Motors stole his design for a reverse-flow cooling system, a setup that was later put into production in GM's LT1 series of small-block V8s - and a design that was protected by Evan's patents. Such a cooling system sends cold water from the radiator directly to the heads and then to the block, which is opposite of a conventional arrangement. While it potentially offers a incre