by Jon LeSage, remarketing editor at Automotive Digest
Intellectual property and the patent wars that go with it point to the future of what’s most valuable, and fought for, in the auto industry….
Green technology and connected cars have sparked patent filing war with automakers, experts say. Intellectual property war similar what has engulfed smartphone industry.
In 2008, about 20 patents were filed quarterly in the US for hybrid or electric vehicle (EV) technologies – now, automakers are filing 90 patents per quarter in that area, according to analyst firm Cleantech Group.
Connected cars and infotainment also expected to be a source of battle – as smartphone industry has found out over patents and intellectual proper for past five years with Apple, HTC, and Samsung pushing injunctions to block rival products.
Automakers are carefully watching what’s been going on in smartphone industry and looking for ways to avoid it, the head of patents and innovation at a top 10 carmaker told the Financial Times.
Eyes are also on Toyota, Nissan, and General Motors as hybrids and EVs slowly creep into the mainstream; and as new vanguard of innovation has opened door for Tesla Motors and battery companies such as Panasonic or LG to monetize their new technologies.
Signals suggest auto industry set to become more litigious in near future, said Rebecca Lawrence, partner and IP expert at law firm Powell Gilbert LLP.
Automotive market has become a new competitive field for global automakers, technology-heavy upstarts, and major industry outsiders (such as Silicon Valley companies). The battle is spreading into future engines, fuels, safety systems, and in-car entertainment. Some experts say this is the most research-intensive period in auto industry since birth of the internal combustion engine.