In a press release today, Ford announced that they are opening to competitors the patents and patent applications they have for electric vehicles. The move is not unlike what Tesla did last year when they opened all their patents in the spirit of accelerating the advent of electric transport. Here is what Kevin Layden, Ford’s director of Electrification Programs, had to say about the announcement:
Innovation is our goal. The way to provide the best technology is through constant development and progress. By sharing our research with other companies, we will accelerate the growth of electrified vehicle technology and deliver even better products to customers.
Ford said that 20% of their patent applications filed last year were related to electric vehicles. They cited a few patents about battery charge balancing, regenerative braking and managing energy consumption.
Last year, Tesla said the move proved popular with engineers and they thought it could help attract more talent at the company. And on that note, Ford said they are looking to hire 200 “electrified vehicle engineers” by the end of the year.
The company invites anyone interested in their technologies to contact AutoHarvest, a program which allows members to showcase technologies and to connect with the inventors to explore potential business development opportunities.
Ford says there will be a licensing fee. Although their patents are now accessible to competitors, they are not entirely free. Toyota did something similar earlier this year to promote their fuel cell technology. Their licenses are free of charge until 2020, around the time Toyota expects their technology to be fully introduced, then licensing fees will apply.
Here is the press release:
DEARBORN, Mich., May 28, 2015 – Ford Motor Company is offering competitors access to its electrified vehicle technology patents – a move to help accelerate industry-wide research and development of electrified vehicles.
In 2014, Ford filed more than 400 patents dedicated to electrified vehicle technologies. This is more than 20 percent of the patents the company filed – totaling more than 2,000 applications.
“Innovation is our goal,” said Kevin Layden, director, Ford Electrification Programs. “The way to provide the best technology is through constant development and progress. By sharing our research with other companies, we will accelerate the growth of electrified vehicle technology and deliver even better products to customers.”
Ford Motor Company is a leader in this area – offering six hybrid or fully electrified vehicles including Ford Focus Electric, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, Ford C-MAX Hybrid, Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. In total, Ford has more than 650 electrified vehicle patents and approximately 1,000 pending patent applications on electrified vehicle technologies.
Ford’s innovations have resulted in acclaimed electrified vehicles on the road today, but the company believes sharing its patented technologies will promote faster development of future inventions as all automakers look toward greater opportunities.
“As an industry, we need to collaborate while we continue to challenge each other,” said Layden. “By sharing ideas, companies can solve bigger challenges and help improve the industry.”
To access Ford’s patents and published patent applications, interested parties can contact the company’s technology commercialization and licensing office, or work through AutoHarvest – an automaker collaborative innovation and licensing marketplace. AutoHarvest allows members to showcase capabilities and technologies, then privately connect with fellow inventors to explore technology and business development opportunities of mutual interest. The patents would be available for a fee.
“Ford helped launch AutoHarvest as a founding member to enable efficient and transparent technology licensing across the automotive industry and beyond,” said Bill Coughlin, president and CEO, Ford Global Technologies, which manages intellectual property for Ford.
As part of Ford’s increased focus on new and innovative technologies, the automaker is set to hire an additional 200 electrified vehicle engineers this year as the team moves into a newly dedicated facility – Ford Engineering Laboratories – home to Henry Ford’s first labs in Dearborn.