It used to be that patents gave were the key to having the competitive edge
in the automobile industry, so Toyota has surprised everyone by publishing in open source more than 24,000 of its hybrid technology patents. Why? What’s in it for the business? What are the risks?
Let OneDay enlighten you.
When the car runs on open source!
Open source is the principle by which resources are made available to everyone for free and until now it was well known in computer software (50% of the world’s websites are built via the WordPress platform). Other intellectual property was also affected – books, for example.
What is new here is that this is cars. It’s a sector where competition is fierce and patents are jealously guarded.
What’s the reason for it?
After 25 years of research, Toyota has decided to put its money on hybrid technology. Others, such as Tesla, have gone for all electric.
For the hybrid market to take off, the Japanese brand has a vested interest in organising the competition. To encourage other manufacturers to use the technology to get started, but also to continue development based on its patents.
It's a stance that’s working.
The patents are freely available, and on top of that, Toyota is offering a paying service dedicated to advising designers who might benefit from additional expertise. It’s a way of monetising years of research.
The Japanese brand is not the only one today to be opening up its patent assets.
Tesla, to a lesser degree, has already done so, as has Volvo, more specifically with data and results from years of safety research.
We should point out that it’s not the first time for this Scandinavian car maker: it already opened up its patents for the revolutionary 3-point seat belt to other manufacturers…60 years ago.
Sources : Toyota, Tesla