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PatSnap, the world’s leading provider of research and development (R&D) analytics, has today launched its Electric Vehicle (EV) Intellectual Property (IP) Report 2018, which analyses PatSnap’s global dataset related to innovation in EVs. The report found a significant increase in global EV innovation over the past ten years, and predicts that there will be an expected 7,500 patent applications in 2018 – rising to 8,500 in 2020.

Looking at the IP data of modern innovators in the EV industry reveals signals about how this market, its players, and their technologies, are evolving. Other findings from the EV report include:

No. of extended patent families 46,246
No. of patent publications 97,606
No. of granted patent families 18,118 – 39.1%
No. of patents pending 8,059 – 17.4%
Application year range 1893-2017
Peak application year 2015 – 4,967 patents
Main company Hyundai – 4,821 patents

Nearly two-thirds of EV patent families have a first-filing in the USA (44%) or China (19%). Based on this activity, China and USA could strategically be key geographic locations for organisations to establish their patent footprint.

Excluding filings with the European Patent Office (9.3%), the UK is Europe’s top destination for EV patenting with 2.3% of initial patent filings. Luxembourg and Ireland have the highest relative specialisation in EV innovation globally, meaning that these could be important locations for bargain partnerships in licensing, open innovation and other opportunities not reflected in patent data.

The top five EV patenting companies include: HyundaiToyotaKia MotorsHitachi and General Motors. Activity has both grown and decreased amongst top applicants in recent years, suggesting that there is still scope for emerging organisations to establish and maintain leading positions. Experienced automotive companies are remaining diverse in their patenting activity while electronics companies tend to focus on fuel cells, batteries and power transfer technologies.

Top technology areas for EV related patents:

  1. Electric propulsion with power supplied within the vehicle (14.92%)
  2. Manufacturing of secondary cells (9.52%)
  3. Arrangements for charging/ depolarising batteries (9.15%)
  4. Arrangement of diverse prime movers for propulsion (7.38%)
  5. Conjoint control of different vehicle sub-units (6.93%)

Looking specifically at unexpected key players in EV innovation, Robert BoschSamsung and Sony hold nearly 900 relevant patents between them, meaning that each of these companies hold relevant intangible assets that put them in a strong position to enter the EV market in future.

Qualcomm owns the most valuable patent in this area – US20130300358A1 – “wireless power transfer for appliances and equipments”- which relates to wireless charging. Due to the far-reaching scope of this technology, this patent is estimated to be worth over $43.4million—up $6 million in estimated value since December 2017.

The most litigious organisations and individuals in this area include: American Vehicular Sciences (AVS), Paice, PowerOasis, Ernie Brookins and Inventio. Top litigator AVS appears to be a non-practicing entity (NPE) and holds a substantial patent portfolio relating to automotive technologies. Companies entering closely related areas should take great care to avoid potential infringement situations.

This data analysis was performed on 4th April 2018. It should be noted that the publication of patent applications in 2016 and after are expected to increase significantly. It normally takes up to 18 months for applications to be published. Published patent applications are not necessarily granted patents.

To read the full PatSnap Electric Vehicle Intellectual Property Report 2018, please click here.

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