IPWatchdog.com is in the process of transitioning to a newer version of our website. Please be patient with us while we work out all the kinks.

Posts Tagged: "automakers"

OEM Trademarks in the AfterMarket: Exploring the Boundaries

While there are certainly limits on how—and how much—aftermarket sellers can use OEM trademarks to communicate key information about aftermarket parts, the legal boundaries for aftermarket sellers are not always clear. And, in the automotive industry, the question of legal boundaries is perhaps most intriguing when the trademark concerned is one of product configuration. Indeed, several U.S. auto companies own incontestable trademarks registrations for various source-identifying parts of their automobiles such as grilles, headlights, and fenders. In light of such perpetual trademark rights in these part configurations, how can aftermarket sellers offer visually identical replacement grilles, headlights or fenders without significant risk of a trademark infringement claim from the auto companies?

Microsoft, Toyota announce new licensing agreement for connected car IP

The licensing agreement, which covers patents directed at connected car technologies, is the latest partnership between these two companies seeking to increase entertainment and autonomous tech platforms within vehicles.,, In recent months, Microsoft has been ramping up licensing programs seeking to encourage the use of its patented technologies by auto manufacturers. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company announced the Microsoft Connected Car Platform, a development platform for connected car technologies using the Azure cloud.

GM and Honda announce joint investment in fuel cell development, marrying two largest patent portfolios in the field

The official announcement released by both GM and Honda notes that both companies enjoy patent portfolios related to fuel cell battery technologies, which are among the world’s largest. A review of clean energy patents granted during 2015 by the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI) shows that GM and Honda rank first and second, respectively, among companies that have been assigned U.S. patents directed at fuel cells between 2002 and 2015; the press release from the companies contradicts this slightly, claiming that Honda is third-place in this category. During the 14 years surveyed by the CEPGI, GM has earned 918 U.S. patents on fuel cells and related technologies while Honda has earned 757 U.S. patents.

Ford receives record number of U.S. patents during 2016 after consistent increases in R&D

Dearborn, MI-based automaker Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) recently issued a press release, which heralded the 1,442 patents granted to the company by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office during 2016, a total which Ford says is the most among any automaker filing for U.S. patents that year. That total marks the largest number of U.S. patents awarded to Ford in any one calendar year, a 25 percent increase over 2015 which was itself a record year for Ford patent application filings. Globally, Ford received 3,200 patents grants during 2016.

DOT unveils new policy guidance for autonomous vehicle developers

The Obama administration is hoping to add some clarity to the regulatory picture by unveiling a new set of guidelines in a 100-page federal automated vehicles policy document. The guidance requires autonomous vehicle developers to provide a safety assessment to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) discussing 15 areas of safety evaluation. The guidelines, which have been issued through the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), identify 11 areas of safety evaluation related to cross-cutting technologies that apply to all automation functions on a vehicle.

Automakers own most vehicle infotainment patents despite gains by Android Auto, Apple CarPlay

Autonomous self-driving technologies may be grabbing headlines for vehicle manufacturers but it’s hardly the only direction in which carmakers are innovating. Infotainment systems bring a smartphone-like platform for software applications straight to the dashboard, providing everything from navigation assistance to streaming music services and even phone call capabilities. Knob-based radio and air conditioning controls are being replaced by touch-sensitive displays and voice-controlled services connecting drivers and passengers to Internet-based services. According to market research reports, the market for in-car infotainment systems is expected to rise from $14.4 billion in 2016 up to $35.2 billion in 2020.

Automakers Lead Silicon Valley in Self-Driving Car Development

The patent landscape for self-driving vehicles is also quickly expanding. As of 2013, patent applications related to this technology hit 2,500 per year. That rate is expected to increase. A lot of attention has been paid to the entry of major tech firms, including Google, thanks in part to eyebrow-raising technologies like their patent for an adhesive material for a car’s hood that is designed to “catch” a pedestrian who is inadvertently struck by an autonomous vehicle. But tech companies should expect plenty of competition. Despite reports that Silicon Valley tech giants are entering the autonomous vehicle race and risk upsetting the traditional market, a study from Thomson Reuters Intellectual Property and Science indicates that long-time automakers have taken the lead in autonomous vehicle development in terms of patents and patent applications.

The patent ‘troll’ fables of the automobile industry

The “troll” narrative of Nakajima and Snow will have us believe that any patent lawsuit to resolve a dispute constitutes abusive litigation. Economic folklore devoid of scale and proportion should not mislead this blog’s readers. First, even if one takes at face value Nakajima’s “six to seven figure” cost for settling per suit, those costs amounted to about $100 million in 2014. This is less than 0.01% of the $1.1 trillion in U.S. automobile sales in 2014, hardly a “serious drain on the automobile industry.” The growth in number of suits may simply be a result of the automotive industry shifting from traditional incremental improvement into adoption of new technologies developed outside that industry such as radar, sensors, navigation, video imaging, smart displays, batteries, electric propulsion, and computer-controlled systems. Second, we have shown that allegations that the Selden patent litigation “stifled the infant automobile industry” are false. We do so in-depth elsewhere by marshalling historical empirical evidence from primary sources in our article The “Overly-broad” Selden patent, Henry Ford and Development in the Early US Automobile Industry.

Looking at text blockers and textalyzers during Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and many organizations are gearing up their pitch for greater safety on the roads by avoiding the need to text or take a phone call while driving. Here on IPWatchdog, we’ve discussed the topic of distracted driving and how autonomous vehicles and device disablement technologies might be able to address some concerns of distracted driving. With the month-long observation of this issue upon us, it’s a good time to revisit the world of innovation to find if new answers to the problem of distracted driving are being developed.

How Autonomous Vehicles Work: The different shades of autonomy ranging up to a fully self-driving car

When considering what makes an autonomous vehicle truly autonomous, it’s important to note that there are different shades of autonomy leading up to the fully self-driving car. One of the organizations which maintains a rubric helping to define autonomous vehicles is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which recognizes five different levels of autonomy for vehicles, starting with Level 0, the most basic tier in which the driver controls all operations, as is the case for conventional vehicles today. Level 1 function-specific automation is reached when a single control function is automated, such as when electronic stability control systems help drivers maintain vehicle control, without completely replacing the need for driver vigilance. Level 2 combined function automation occurs when two primary control functions are designed to work together to relieve a driver…

Autonomous Cars – Patents and Perspectives

The recent Model 3 announcement by Tesla took the industry by storm and saw Tesla collecting a whopping $276 million in preorders in a matter of days. In focus in particular was the autopilot features on the new Tesla car – which meant that Autonomous Cars (a.k.a. driverless cars or self-driven cars) are finally breaching the line between concept and mainstream… Though efforts have escalated significantly in the last five years, autonomous cars are not a new concept. Initial research can be traced back all the way to the 1920s.

IP Threats and Collaboration in the Auto Industry

In 1903, Henry Ford was hit with a patent lawsuit while watching his first automobiles get loaded into boxcars. IP issues have plagued the auto industry every since. Today, over 110 years later, automakers still deal with IP threats on a regular basis. The number of lawsuits filed against automakers by patent trolls rose from 17 in 2009 to 107 in 2014. These lawsuits often result in six and seven-figure settlements, and represent a serious drain on the automotive industry. With this spectre hanging over their heads, automakers can’t fully innovate, grow and prosper. It is time for the industry to band together and fight back.

Established Automakers Not Yielding to Technology Companies on Autonomous Cars

Thomson Reuters analysts put their research in high gear to quantify just who the major players in this space are with the “2016 State of Self-Driving Automotive Innovation.” Data was aggregated from the Derwent World Patents Index® collection to identify global patent activity and the total number of unique inventions issued in published patent applications and granted patents were analyzed from January 2010 through October 31, 2015. The findings detail a notable commitment from carmakers and tech companies to advance driverless technology, while uncovering the fact that established automakers are the most likely to have the biggest impact in the self-driving category in the near term.

Looking back on 2015, autonomous and electric vehicles dominate car tech headlines

In many ways, 2015 has been the year of the automobile, especially in the tech world. Throughout the course of the year we’ve noted a great deal of business and technological developments that have been reshaping the entire vehicle manufacturing sector. Gone are the days that the market is completely dominated by names such as General Motors Company, Ford Motor Company or Toyota Motor Corp. As 2015 draws to a close, these traditional automaker behemoths are seeing encroachment on their position from some unusual names, especially those residing in Silicon Valley.

In the global race for Electric Vehicle innovation, America tops Japan for first place

When looking specifically at patents that specifically mention “electric vehicles,” it looks as though there are reasons to feel good about America’s place in the world. Both Ford and General Motors Company are atop the leaderboard in this sector, placing first and second overall respectively. One Ford technology developed to allow electric vehicle owners to make sure that electricity drawn from a vehicle comes from renewable sources is outlined within U.S. Patent No. 9024571, entitled ‘Charging of Electric Vehicles Based on Historical Clean Energy Profiles.’ General Motors is hoping to change the perception that Electric Vehicles are capable of only short range use, as evident by recently issued U.S. Patent No. 9002552, titled “Compact Electric Range Extender for an Electric Vehicle.”