Toyota has announced at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that they will release thousands of their hydrogen related patents – royalty free. The initiative is aimed at spurring development and the introduction of fuel cell technologies around the world.
Toyota will invite royalty-free use of approximately 5,680 fuel cell related global patents, including critical technologies developed for the new Toyota Mirai. The list includes approximately 1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 patents related to hydrogen production and supply. Bob Carter, Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations at Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc. said:
“At Toyota, we believe that when good ideas are shared, great things can happen. The first generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, launched between 2015 and 2020, will be critical, requiring a concerted effort and unconventional collaboration between automakers, government regulators, academia and energy providers. By eliminating traditional corporate boundaries, we can speed the development of new technologies and move into the future of mobility more quickly, effectively and economically.”
The hydrogen fuel cell patents will be made available to automakers who will produce and sell fuel cell vehicles, as well as to fuel cell parts suppliers and energy companies who establish and operate fuelling stations, through the initial market introduction period, anticipated to last until 2020. Companies working to develop and introduce fuel cell buses and industrial equipment, such as forklifts, are also covered. Requests from parts suppliers and companies looking to adapt fuel cell technology outside of the transportation sector will be evaluated on a case by case basis. Patents affected in today’s announcement only cover those wholly owned by Toyota and are available until the end of 2020, with specific patents for hydrogen production and supply remaining open for an unlimited duration.
Toyota did a similar trick with hybrid patents although today’s announcement represents the first time they have made patents available free of charge. Toyota hope that this will fast-track support for developing hydrogen-based technologies. As part of licensing agreements, Toyota will request, but will not require, that other companies share their fuel cell-related patents with Toyota for similar royalty-free use.
In the US, Toyota have been helping to build hydrogen fuelling infrastructure in California and the north eastern United States. In May 2014, Toyota announced a $7.3 million loan to FirstElement Fuels to support the operations and maintenance of 19 hydrogen fuelling stations across California. In November 2014, Toyota announced a collaboration with Air Liquide to develop and supply a phased network of 12 state-of-the-art hydrogen stations targeted for New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Additional details about Toyota’s fuel cell-related patents, including licensing terms and the application process, will be announced in the weeks ahead.