Patenting Trends in the Automobile Industry


The automobile sector is one of the fastest growing, competitive, and highest revenue earning industries. Keeping in mind the stiff competition, most leading automobile companies actively protect their IP. This post brings to light recent patenting trends seen in the automobile industry. The recent patent deployment strategies of established players demonstrates considerable improvement in  technological areas such as propulsion, telematics, safety and security.


Propulsion technology remains a hot topic among the automobile giants. The automakers aim to satisfy a long felt need to maximize fuel efficiency. Their research and development teams are continuously working hard to boost the average fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025. This is reflected by the hike in the number of propulsion patents.


Another recent trend seen in patent applications focuses on technology in the area of telematics. There has been a substantial increase in developmental activity with respect to telematics and driver assistance systems in recent times. Telematics combines wireless telecommunication technologies and computers to facilitate navigation, tracking of vehicles and even controlling a car’s functions from ones smart phone. Telematics enables the integration of computing, communications, control, and transport technologies. The recent development in telematics is demonstrated by the increase in the number of applications in the field of vehicle tracking, trailer tracking, fleet management, satellite navigation, and wireless vehicle safety communications.


Further, an up surge in the number of patent applications has also been seen with respect to vehicle safety and security. It can be deduced from these applications that vehicle safety technology is intended to be used along with advanced driver assistance systems, to prevent instances of car theft. A rise in application numbers has been observed with respect to car-to-computer communication devices which utilize GPS tracking features, geo-fencing capabilities, remote speed sensing, theft deterrence, damage mitigation etc. Many of the recent patent applications focus on technology in the area of object detection and user alerts, utilizing lights, alarms, projected images, interactive screens, and other communication methods to improve vehicular safety. In addition to this, automobile patent filers show a high degree of interest in vehicular structures, filing applications for frames, windows, roofs, and safety devices, both interior and exterior.


Some applications also focus on vehicle power train developments, including hybrid and plug-in electric systems, battery technology for electric and hybrid vehicles, and fuel cell technologies.


According to recent studies, the majority of Indian patent applications filed by automobile companies fall under IPC subclass B60K which relates to arrangement or mounting of propulsion units, transmissions in vehicles, arrangement or mounting of plural diverse prime-movers, auxiliary drives, instrumentation or dashboards for vehicles, conjoint control of drive units, arrangements in connection with cooling, air intake, gas exhaust, or fuel supply of propulsion units in vehicles.


Authored by Blessen Koshy.

Sources: 1, 2, 3