Toyota’s royalty free patent licensing announcement, making available approximately 5,680 fuel cell related patents in four core technology areas, including: fuel cell stacks, high-pressure hydrogen tanks, fuel cell system software control and hydrogen production and supply has received a great deal of press attention.
The announcement made earlier this week from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) paves the way for a myriad of new innovative venture collaborations within the automotive category and well beyond.
As I prepared to author this post, I spoke with Dan Vandervelde, Ocean Tomo’s Director overseeing Technical Insights for the firm. Dan shared with me some relevant background on hydrogen fuel cells focused on the most common type of fuel cell, the Polymer Electrolyte Membrane or Proton-Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell. “These fuel cells are what is most relevant for application in motorized vehicles, these cells run at relatively low temperatures and have a number of advantages directly applicable to motor vehicles including quick start-up and durability.”
Based on this insight, I asked my team to take a look at the relevant companies with patents issued by the USPTO in this space. As the landscape of fuel cell technology is quite vast, we focused our attention on fuel cell stack technologies, one of the four areas of innovation presented by Toyota for royalty-free license. We began by looking at the four most highly rated fuel cell stack patents issued by the USTPO to Toyota. From there, we conducted a relevance search which yielded over 1000 other patents related by direct citation to the Toyota patents we began with. We further narrowed our field of study to focus on patents with 70% or greater relevance/relatedness to the original four Toyota patents reducing the field of study to approximately 110 patents or roughly 10% of the original data set.
The Competitive Landscape for Fuel Cell Stack Patents reflects the notable players in the market from both the perspective of the size of the portfolio (indicated by the size of the bubble), relative quality of the portfolio based on bubble position along the X axis with higher quality portfolios falling further to the right side of the map and finally patents most relative to the seed patents selected for the analysis falling higher up the Y axis. While this visual look at the landscape of the battery patents applicable to wearable technology is a useful snapshot, most studying this technology area will want a more granular review of individual patents.
The Ocean Tomo Due Diligence™ Report or DDR is a key resource for this type of detailed exploration. This report provides basic due diligence for the patent including its legal status, re-examination history, infringement assertion actions, file history, related patents. It contains key inventor insights including patenting volume by class, affiliated inventors and companies. It includes chain of assignment data. It presents the patented technology along with exemplary claim and related visual, the related technology space – both the volume and relative quality of patenting within the technology area by the top patentees in the space. It presents a historical view of patenting within the technology class and related pendency, provides an overview of the most relevant related patent classes along with specific relevant cited prior art as well as relevant non-cited prior-art including: patent number, title, current assignee, OTR™ rating, percent relevance (1.0 – .60). The report includes a summary list of the most relevant patent holders and includes the number of patents, the average OTR™ score, the average % relevance. Finally the report includes an Obsolescence Analysis measuring the rate at which older patented technologies are displaced by newer technologies.
A special thanks to Dan Vandervelde and David Ghorbanpoor for contributing to this post.
Request an Ocean Tomo Due Diligence Report for one or more of the patents included in this study (or any patent issued by the USPTO).
For further insights on Innovation Management from Ocean Tomo, click here.