Ford Throws EV Patents Into The Ring, But They Aren’t Free

2014 Ford C-MAX Hybrid

Ford is showing the auto industry some love. The automaker’s announced it will open its portfolio of patented electric vehicle (EV) technologies. However, unlike Tesla of last year and Toyota of this year, Ford will not be offering its patents for free. Rival automakers will have to pay for them.

Aside from making a dime off of them, Ford says it sees the patents exchange as a way for the car industry to advance as a whole by working together to make better and more eco-friendly vehicles.

“Innovation is our goal. The way to provide the best technology is through constant development and progress. By sharing our research with other companies, we will accelerate the growth of electrified vehicle technology and deliver even better products to customers,” says Kevin Layden, director, Ford Electrification Programs.

Ford filed more more than 400 hybrid and plug-in patents last year alone. In all, it has over 650 patents and around 1,000 pending on EV technology. Rival automakers can buy access to some of the patents that Ford uses in its electric vehicle lineup, which includes the Focus Electric, Fusion Hybrid, Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, C-MAX Hybrid, C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid and also the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

“As an industry, we need to collaborate while we continue to challenge each other. By sharing ideas, companies can solve bigger challenges and help improve the industry,” says Layden.

Competitors can make a deal by directly contacting Ford’s technology commercialization and licensing office or by going through AutoHarvest, which is an Ford founded automaker licensing marketplace that facilitates patent deals. As for how much it’ll cost, pricing for the patents is said to range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

“Ford helped launch AutoHarvest as a founding member to enable efficient and transparent technology licensing across the automotive industry and beyond,” says Bill Coughlin, president and CEO, Ford Global Technologies.

One of the patents up for purchase works to help balance batteries for longer and more efficient use and also enables the use of lithium-ion batteries. Another one is a driving behavior feedback interface that allows car systems to monitor driver input behavior in order to give feedback on how to drive in a more eco-friendly way.

In January, Toyota announced it would make 5,600 hydrogen fuel cell patents free to use. Last year, Tesla opened up its EV patents for free as well, saying it won’t sue anyone who in good faith wants to use its technology.

As Ford begins to sell its own patents, we have to wonder which automaker may toss its patents into the ring next.

Photo Credit: Ford


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