Toyota To Offer Royalty-Free Use Of Fuel Cell Patents To Jump-Start Production Of “Hydrogen Society”

Toyota announced it would make patents related to fuel cell technology available to competitors royalty-free.

Toyota announced it would make patents related to fuel cell technology available to competitors royalty-free.

Toyota didn’t exactly announce any new products at its CES press conference on Monday, but the company did give a gift to its competitors: royalty-free use of its hydrogen fuel cell patents. While some companies might feel the need to fiercely guard such game-changing technology, officials at Toyota say sharing the information could mark a turning point in automotive history.

Toyota’s announcement means that more than 5,680 currently approved and pending fuel cell related patents are up for grabs by rival automakers hoping to gain a foothold in the evolving market of alternatively fueled vehicles.

The hydrogen fuel cell patents will be made available to automakers who will produce and sell fuel cell vehicles, as well as to fuel cell parts suppliers and energy companies who establish and operate fueling stations, through Toyota’s initial market introduction period for the upcoming Mirai vehicle, which is anticipated to last until 2020.

Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku talking science.

Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku talking science.

Bob Carter, Toyota Motors senior vice president of automotive operations, said during the press event that the patents are a critical piece to producing fuel cell vehicles.

In all, Carter estimated that 1,970 of the patents are related to fuel cell stacks, 290 to high pressure tanks and 3,350 to the fuel cell system control.

In an attempt to create a hydrogen society based on fuel cell vehicle’s like the Mirai, the company announced it would also make some 80 hydrogen station related patents available.

Toyota’s patent sharing announcement Monday comes about seven months after Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the company would make its patents available for “good faith” use by others.