Toyota Wants You To Have These 5,680 Fuel Cell Patents for Free

Jan 06, 2015 10:48 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma

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Following in Tesla's footsteps, Toyota has invited the world to use around 5,680 patents related to fuel cell technology, hoping it will spur innovation for hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The automaker believes that a five-year period of making the patents available is key to furthering fuel cell technology.

"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," Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations at Toyota's American division, said in a statement.

"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."

The collection now available for royalty-free use includes vital technologies that were used in the new Toyota Mirai, a fuel-cell sedan that launched in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show.  

The globally held patent list comprises "1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 patents related to hydrogen production and supply," according to Toyota.

Last summer, Elon Musk announced that Tesla Motors was opening up its patent collection to encourage a widespread shift to electric vehicles.

"Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology," Musk said in a company blog post.

Toyota's patents related to hydrogen-powered vehicles can be used for free until the end of 2020, while patents for hydrogen production and supply will remain open for an unlimited duration, the automaker said. 

The Japanese company, which elected to invest in fuel cell technology rather than electric cars, has also been working to develop hydrogen fueling stations in the United States. Toyota announced a $7.3 million loan to FirstElement Fuels last May to go toward maintaining and operating an infrastructure of 19 hydrogen fuel stations in California.

In November, Toyota teamed up with Air Liquide to develop 12 stations slated for New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

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