Toyota will be making more than 5,600 of its hydrogen fuel-cell technologies patents free to use for a large number of companies in the industry/sector — absolutely no charges, including no royalty payments — according to recent reports.
Seemingly taking a move from Tesla’s recent playbook, the move is certainly an interesting one — but you can’t help but wonder if the primary reason for it is simply as a means of generating good PR.
Among the many patents being opened up are Toyota’s patents granted in the development of its first hydrogen vehicle — the 2016 Toyota Mirai. Among the others are patents for software to control hydrogen fueling systems (~3350); patents for fuel stack technology (~1970); patents relating to high-pressure tanks for hydrogen fuel (~290); and patents relating to the production and supply of hydrogen-fuel (~70).
Of these, the patents pertaining to fuel-cell vehicles will remain royalty-free until the year 2020 — all of the other patents (fuel production, supply, etc) are royalty-free for an unlimited period (this is the claim anyways).
The announcement of the move — which was made at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show — was accompanied by the statement that Toyota hoped that the release of the patents would open “the door to the hydrogen future” and “spur development and introduction of innovative fuel cell technologies” around the world.
Yeah… that’s something we don’t see happening, and think shouldn’t happen, for a variety of reasons.
The announcement was also accompanied by the company’s request that companies that license its technologies also go ahead and share their own library of patents.
The companies eligible to make use of the Toyota patents include: those that develop and market hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, parts suppliers for said developers/sellers, fuelling station developers, companies that develop/sell hydrogen buses, and/or industrial equipment that uses fuel-cell technology.
Individual contracts will have to be worked out directly through Toyota via a not-yet-announced application process.
Image Credit: Toyota
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