Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Hyundai leads rise in telematics and driver assistance patents

January 21, 2015
Technology advances in telematics and driver assistance systems are gathering steam as the enablers of future connected and self-driving cars, according to an analysis of global patent applications.
South Korean car maker Hyundai Motor posted the biggest gains in the number of patent filings over the past five years, narrowing the gap with industry leader Toyota, according to the report by Thomson Reuters IP & Science.
The survey analysed patent applications and mapped trends in five key areas – propulsion, navigation, handling, safety and security, and entertainment. Hyundai was among the leaders in every category, ranking number three overall behind Toyota and Robert Bosch.
Hyundai, which along with sister company Kia Motor is fifth in global sales, has outperformed the overall automotive market thanks to its stylish, yet affordable models, but experts say the duo lacks a technological edge to compete better with rivals. Hyundai, which has been a fast-follower in the industry, had seen a surge of patent litigation since gaining global prominence in recent years. Hyundai's patent filings more than doubled to 1200 in 2013, from 500 in 2010, according to the report.
Although Toyota is still the overall leader in terms of automotive innovations – those protected with patents – Hyundai is the fastest-growing, most up-and-coming innovator in the space, the report says. Hyundai ranked third in the number of patent lawsuits filed by the firms that specialise in suing others for infringement, just behind Ford Motor and General Motors, according to SU Intellectual Property, a Seoul-based IP firm.
"Hyundai has belatedly realised the importance of patents and has been keeping pace with rivals," said Jung Dong-joon, representative attorney of SU Intellectual Property. "While Hyundai has increased the number of its patent filings, it is still a follower in terms of patent quality." He added that Hyundai needed to secure more core patents.
Overall, Asians and Germans dominated the top ten companies for patent applications, while GM, ranked seventh, was the only US company making the list.
The automotive sector saw the number of patent filings around the world grow by double-digits year-on-year over the past five years, the report said. While Google has dominated headlines in self-driving cars, Toyota, GM and Hyundai received the most patents in this area, said Bob Stembridge, one of the report's authors.
"We see a lot of increasing activity in telematics and driver assistance systems as the supporting technologies for self-driving cars," said Stembridge, an analyst with Thomson Reuters IP & Science.
Among the leaders in driver-assistance patents are Bosch, Daimler, Continental, Valeo and Volkswagen's Audi. GM and Hyundai lead the advances in telematics.