Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Toyota frees up patents to boost fuel cell use

Steve Rogerson
January 7, 2014:
As part of efforts to popularise fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), Japanese car maker Toyota is to allow royalty-free use of approximately 5680 of the FCV-related patent licences, including pending applications, it holds globally on an unconsolidated basis.

Toyota believes this will help stimulate the market, spurring more widespread use of FCVs at the initial introduction stage. It believes concerted initiatives with energy companies that are looking to expand hydrogen station infrastructure, and automobile manufacturers that are looking to move forward with FCV development and market introduction, will be vital.

In an announcement made at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Toyota said it would allow royalty-free use of its FCV patent licences by those manufacturing and selling FCVs through the initial market introduction period, which is anticipated to continue until about 2020. This initiative will include patents that are critical to the development and production of FCVs, such as those relating to fuel cell stacks (about 1970 patent licences), high-pressure hydrogen tanks (roughly 290), and fuel cell system control technology (about 3350).

To facilitate more rapid expansion of hydrogen station networks, Toyota will also provide royalty-free use of approximately 70 hydrogen-station-related patent licences indefinitely for those installing and operating hydrogen stations.

Toyota plans to make the royalty-free licences available for use to companies and organisations that conclude contracts with Toyota based on negotiations with the company concerning specific usage plans, in line with standard patent licence usage procedures.

Toyota has always had an open policy regarding use of its intellectual property, allowing licensing of patents by third parties that pay appropriate usage fees. By allowing royalty-free use of FCV-related patent licences, Toyota is going one step further as it aims to promote the widespread use of FCVs and actively contribute to the realisation of a hydrogen-based society.