Patent Wars Are Building in US Auto Market

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.

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