Royalty Free

Toyota will license its hydrogen-related patents at no charge through 2020
by Dan Miller
Jan/Feb 2015
Royalty Free
On the House
When equipped with an optional power take-off device, the Toyota Mirai's fuel stack could generate enough electricity to power an average house in an emergency. This is just one example of the more than 5,600 patents that Toyota is sharing through 2020.
Toyota’s press conference at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 5 was brief. Yet there was still enough time to offer more than 5,600 reasons why hydrogen is likely to become the primary automotive fuel of the future.

That’s because each of those “reasons” is a hydrogen fuel cell patent owned by Toyota. For the first time, the company will make those patents available to the automotive industry free of charge.

“At Toyota, we believe that when good ideas are shared, great things can happen,” said Bob Carter, senior vice president of Automotive Operations at Toyota Motor Sales, in making the unprecedented announcement.

“The first generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will be critical, requiring concerted effort and unconventional collaboration among automakers, government regulators, academia and energy providers. By eliminating traditional corporate boundaries, we can speed the development of new technologies and move into the future of mobility more quickly, effectively and economically.”

Toyota has a long history of sharing its intellectual property. For example, to help promote the adoption hybrid vehicle technology, the company made its related patents available to third parties in exchange for a licensing fee.

With this move, however, Toyota is going one step further and sharing its hydrogen-related patents royalty free. It’s yet another tangible sign that the company is fully committed to serving as a catalyst to bring about a hydrogen-based society.

Going to Change the World’
“I believe this technology is going to change our world,” said Satoshi Ogiso, a managing officer of Toyota Motor Corporation, during that global debut. “And sooner rather than later.”

Sharing the inner workings of these breakthrough technologies royalty-free increases the likelihood that Ogiso’s claim will come true. The list includes approximately 1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 patents related to hydrogen production and supply.

Toyota’s offer is intended primarily for manufacturers that produce and sell fuel cell vehicles (including buses and industrial equipment such as forklifts), fuel cell parts suppliers and energy companies looking to establish and operate fueling stations. However, Toyota will also review—on a case by case basis—requests from companies looking to adapt the technology beyond the transportation sector.

Patents related to fuel cell vehicles will be available for royalty-free licenses until the end of 2020, when it’s anticipated that several first-generation fuel cell vehicles will be introduced. Patents for hydrogen production and supply will remain open for an unlimited time. As part of the licensing agreements, Toyota will encourage but not require other companies to share their fuel cell-related patents with Toyota for similar royalty-free use.
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