A recent addition to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database has revealed a patent application from EV startup Canoo for its proprietary platform technology. The application provisionally filed in September of 2019 outlines all the components within the Canoo platform as well as an image. A more in-depth search has revealed that the Southern California-based automaker has been quite busy filing many other patents, too.
Canoo ($GOEV) is an EV startup founded in 2017 by two former employees of Faraday Future. In early 2020, Canoo announced plans to jointly develop an electric vehicle platform for future Hyundai and Kia vehicles. This deal has since died, according to Canoo chairman and recently appointed CEO, Tony Aquila, in a call with investors last month.
The automaker’s current focus is on its MPDV, an all-purpose, modular delivery van, and its Canoo Pickup Truck, which is scheduled to deliver in 2023. Both the MPDV and pickup will sit on the Canoo platform architecture, allowing for modular and customizable “top hats” to occupy the space on top. With the confirmed patent application made public today, Canoo appears to be protecting its technology and then some.
According to the filing from the USPTO, the application made public today protects an array of interconnected components within the EV platform, allowing for its unique modular capabilities. The application abstract describes the platform patent:
A self-contained vehicle platform or chassis incorporating substantially all of the functional systems, subsystems and components (e.g., mechanical, electrical, structural, etc.) necessary for an operative vehicle. Functional components may include at least energy storage/conversion, propulsion, suspension and wheels, steering, crash protection, and braking systems. Functional components are standardized such that vehicle platforms may be interconnected with a variety of vehicle body designs (also referred to in the art as ‘top hats’) with minimal or no modification to the functional linkages (e.g., mechanical, structural, electrical, etc.) therebetween.
The Canoo platform is one of many patents
As you can see from the patent application, Canoo has been working on protecting the intellectual property for quite some time now. It makes one wonder if there were other patents in the pipeline, especially given how long of a timeline exists between the application and the database publication.
In searching through Canoo’s annual report on its website, we were able to find mention of many more patents in the works – over 50, in fact. Under the “Intellectual Property” section of the report, Canoo relays the following update:
As of December 31, 2020, we had 27 pending or allowed U.S. patents and 25 pending international patent applications. Our patent applications are directed to, among other things, EV platforms, powertrain technologies, component systems, software engineering, connected vehicle engineering and enhanced vehicle manufacturability. As of December 31, 2020, our material U.S. patents, including those covering our platform technology, suspension systems, battery systems, drive-by-wire design, impact features, and manufacturing methods will, pending grant of each application, expire in approximately 2039 and 2040, based on the 20-year terms of U.S. patents (absent any available patent term adjustments or extensions).
Furthermore, Canoo stated it had three pending US trademark applications, 50 registered international trademarks, and 19 pending international trademark applications at the end of the last fiscal year. Given that we are now months removed from when this report was published, we have asked Canoo for an update to any of these pending patents. We have yet to hear back.
Canoo’s proprietary platform is by no means “breaking news.” It is something we have followed and covered since the startup was founded. However, the confirmation that this company is making expansive efforts to protect its intellectual property is reassuring for its future.
There has bit quite a bit of turnover at Canoo headquarters lately. Co-founders Stefan Krause and Ulrich Kranz have both now left the company, leaving Tony Aquila as CEO and Chairman. Even before Kranz’s recent exit, however, it appears Aquila and the Canoo team had already taken the correct steps of protecting their intellectual (and financial in Aquila’s case) investment.
With a platform collaboration with Hyundai and Kia essentially DOA, Canoo can focus on continuing to develop and produce its own electric vehicles. Canoo seems to be honed in on producing its MPDV variations and pickup truck for now, with a potential electric car in the works.
No matter what Canoo is developing, it looks to have made the smart choice in protecting its technology with loads of patents. Next, we will hope to see some these platforms in action in the real world.
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