Thomson Reuters Releases Detailed Report on Automotive Innovations

The IP and Science Business of Thomson Reuters has released a detailed report on the patenting activities of the automotive industry

The IP and Science Business of Thomson Reuters has released a detailed report on the patenting activities of the automotive industry

For a number of years now the Intellectual Property and Science business of Thomson Reuters has been releasing reports related to patenting, and innovation on a variety of different topics, and fields.

One of these reports is the Top 100 Innovators, which is a listing of the most innovative companies year on year based on their overall patenting activities. This report looks at companies as a whole, and doesn’t specify particular industries.

The company also makes predictions about where the world is headed based on patent analysis. Last year they produced a study entitled The World in 2025 – 10 Predictions in Innovation, which projected where science and technology was headed based on recently filed applications.

Besides looking at individual companies, and making predictions the reports also cover industries from both an overall perspective, as well as with detailed categories. There have been a number of these publications in the State of Innovation series.

Overall, Thomson Reuters has published dozens of case studies, and reports providing insights into the world of patenting, and the impact it is having on technology development.

Within the State of Innovation series Thomson Reuters occasionally takes deep dives into various industries, and provides key insights into which topics, and companies are filing patents in these fields. Today the organization released their detailed report on the patent related goings on within the field of automotives.

A copy of the report can be downloaded from here.

While the broad, yearly State of Innovation reports typically refrain from drawing conclusions the industry specific deep dive provides a number of insights from looking at the last five years of patent filings in the industry. For instance, it is widely know that Toyota files the highest number of patents in the area of automotive innovation, but the detailed analysis in this report highlights how Hyundai has started coming on strong, and will likely be giving Toyota a run for its money in the years to come.

Hyundai is surging recently based on their patent filings over the past five years

Hyundai is surging recently based on their patent filings over the past five years

While the surge in patenting by Hyundai is a recent occurrence, it should not necessarily come as a surprise considering the other major technology-based organizations that also make South Korea home, namely Samsung, and LG. When I first saw the Thomson Reuters results I asked a friend of mine who works for Honda what he thought of Hyundai. Without any guidance from me, and without knowing that I was referring to patenting my friend responded by saying that, “Hyundai wants to be Samsung.” I thought this was an interesting response from an engineer, but it certainly makes sense that a South Korean auto maker would start to follow the example of its successful country mates. Samsung, and LG have been setting the example for years on how IP savvy organizations manage their patent related activities, and the rest of the automotive industry would do well to pay more attention to Hyundai if they are beginning to emulate Samsung, and LG.

The report also looks at the details around the specific categories that the various industry participants are filing in. This can be seen in some of the previous reports, but in this deep dive patenting by several of the organizations within the categories is also analyzed by year. This provides an added level of patent analysis to this study, and provides additional insights on recent interest by the company. For example, in the chart below it can be seen that while the Handling categories is the one that Hyundai has the highest number of inventions in, it is actually the Propulsion area which has been driving their recent rise in patents.

Handling was an early area of innovative focus for Hyundai, but recently they have shifted to Propulsion

Handling was an early area of innovative focus for Hyundai, but recently they have shifted to Propulsion

The report also looks at Hot Topics, and who are the companies to watch within them, for the auto industry. These topics were picked based on the amount of buzz they are receiving in the popular press, and the patent analysis provides some surprising insights on them. In particular it was interesting to read that while Google gets most of the attention in the field of Autonomous Driving it is actually GM, Toyota, and Hyundai that have the most inventions in the area.

The conclusion reached at the end of the report are certainly worth reading, and provide some specific thoughts on where the industry is heading. If you are looking for more information about what insights can be found in the report before providing your email address in order to download it, here is the copy of the press release that Thomson Reuters published in conjunction with the release.

PHILADELPHIA, PA, January 20, 2015 – The Intellectual Property & Science business of Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, today released the results of its study of the global automobile industry’s recent patent activity. The findings, which are featured in the Thomson Reuters paper, “The State of Innovation in the Automotive Industry,” detail a massive commitment from carmakers to new propulsion technology, which jumped from less than 2,000 patents filed in 2009 to nearly 12,000 by July 2014.

Following are among the key findings in the report:

  • Propulsion Patents Explode: According to analysis of patent data from 2009 through July 2014, activity in propulsion technology grew from less than 2,000 patents to nearly 12,000: more than any other technology area in the automotive industry. It was also the only area of patents to reflect a year-over-year growth in the five-year span.
  • Toyota, Japan Lead the Way: With over 7,000 patent assignments to the company during the period covered, Toyota is the auto world’s top innovator from a patent perspective. The company is one of five Japanese carmakers (Honda, Denso, Seiko Epson, Mitsubishi) in the top ten, the most of any country. In contrast, the United States’ one representative in the top 10 assignees, General Motors, is seventh on the list, with short of 3,000 patents.
  • Hyundai Sets Blistering Pace: The one Korean automaker in the top ten, Hyundai, has burst onto the patenting scene. The company has earned the distinction as the fastest growing patentee, climbing from a low point of under 500 in 2010. Since then it is on a remarkable sprint toward the top, resulting in nearly 1,200 patent filings in 2013, enough to rank them third on the most-assigned list.
  • ‘Connected’ Vehicle Technology Gains Momentum: After stealing the stage at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the field of telematics, which enables Wi-Fi-style communications in vehicles and powers the sensors that enable self-driving vehicles, has made a prominent showing in the Thomson Reuters Automotive Industry report. Companies as diverse as General Motors, LG and United Parcel Service are actively patenting in the field.
  • Safety Patents Grow Modestly: Patent activity in the four remaining auto categories (navigation, handling, safety and security, and entertainment) stayed flat or dipped, with safety and security being the lone exception. Less than 1,000 patents were filed in 2009 in the safety and security classification, a number that grew to roughly 2,500 in 2013.

“The clock is quickly ticking towards Model Year 2025 – where U.S. automakers’ fleets will be required by law to boast an average fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon – and the industry is working diligently to comply,” said Bob Stembridge, an intellectual property analyst at Thomson Reuters. “The 2012 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) mandate seems to have set the agenda for the next decade of car manufacturing, and the huge spike in propulsion patents reflect this prevailing trend.”

Data for this report were aggregated using Thomson Reuters Derwent World Patents Index® (DWPI℠) to identify global patent activity in the automobile industry. Within each category, researchers analyzed the total number of unique inventions (each invention was counted only once) issued in published patent applications and granted patents between January 2009 and July 2014.

To read the full report, visit: LINK

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