Toyota announced at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show that it would be throwing open the doors to thousands of its hydrogen fuel cell patents.

TOYOTA SAYS BY making thousands of its hydrogen fuel cell patents available to other car makers, it hopes to “spur development and introduction of innovative fuel cell technologies around the world”.

Car makers will be able to access, royalty free, around 5680 fuel cell related patents held globally, including “critical technologies developed for the new Toyota Mirai”.  “The list includes approximately 1970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 patents related to hydrogen production and supply,” Toyota said in a statement.

“At Toyota, we believe that when good ideas are shared, great things can happen,” said Bob Carter, Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations at Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc. “The first generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, launched between 2015 and 2020, will be critical, requiring a concerted effort and unconventional collaboration between automakers, government regulators, academia and energy providers. By eliminating traditional corporate boundaries, we can speed the development of new technologies and move into the future of mobility more quickly, effectively and economically.”

This is not the first time Toyota has allowed other car makers to gain access to its intellectual property, although when it offered access to its hybrid technology it charged for the privilege. This time it’s free. This “represents the first time that Toyota has made its patents available free of charge and reflects the company’s aggressive support for developing a hydrogen-based society”.

But car makers won’t get total access, the release of patents only applies to those car makers who will produce and sell fuel cell vehicles, and there are only a few of those. Although it does also apply to fuel cell parts makers, and the hydrogen tanks knowledge will be beneficial, it will also offer the information to those makers building fuel cell buses and forklifts. Everyone else will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.


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