Toyota pushes hydrogen fuel cell cars with open patent portfolio

Toyota is making thousands of patents royalty-free to secure the future of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
Toyota has pledged to make thousands of patents royalty-free to encourage research in hydrogen fuel cell technology.

On Tuesday, the Japanese automaker used the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 held in Las Vegas to make the announcement.

Approximately 5,680 fuel cell related patents will now be available for use royalty-free, including technologies used to develop the Toyota Mirai. Hydrogen and air combine in order to generate electricity through carbon-fiber fuel tanks and front intake grills, powering the vehicle and leaving only water as a by-product.

In total, approximately 1,970 patents which are related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 patents linked to hydrogen production and supply will be made available.

Bob Carter, Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations at Toyota Motor Sales USA commented:

"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."

Toyota says today's announcement "reflects the company's aggressive support for developing a hydrogen-based society."

The automaker has previously invested in the development of a hydrogen fueling facility in California and across the northeastern United States. In May last year, Toyota announced a $7.3 million loan to FirstElement Fuels to support the operation of 19 hydrogen fueling stations across California.

Companies interested in Toyota's pledge can negotiate individual contracts for patent usage. However, it is worth noting that today's announcement covers only fuel cell-related patents. Patents linked to fuel cell vehicles will be available until the end of 2020, whereas patents related to hydrogen production and supply will remain open indefinitely.

In return, Toyota is asking interested companies to share and share alike when it comes to other fuel cell-related patents, but does not stipulate this as a condition.

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