IP Trends in the Automotive Industry Report

IP Trends in the Automotive Industry Report: The automotive sector forms one of the fastest-growing and highest revenue-earning industries. The sphere of foreign IP filing trends in the automotive industry is expected to experience a robust change in 2020.

With a significant revolution in inventions and innovations, new competitors including electric motors and hybrid drivetrains are also entering the market. Moreover, expanding alternative technology trends show that self-driven cars are no longer a fantasy. Thus, keeping the competition in mind, all the leading automotive companies protect their IP.

Topology: Automotive Clusters

The topology below includes category-specific data subsets for the application clusters falling under Automotive Level 1:

  • AI-Integrated Vehicles
  • Ancillary Vehicle Systems
  • Battery
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Vehicle Controlling System
  • Vehicle Navigating System
  • Vehicle Safety System

Hence, based on this data, different clusters experienced some unexpected filing trends along with the general upwards trend in patent filings:

  • Vehicle Controlling System, AI-Integrated Vehicles, Ancillary Vehicle Systems and Vehicle Navigation Systems experienced the highest growth between 2006 and 2018.
  • The patent lead, which earlier persisted in electric vehicles, has now reached a plateau phase, since 2014.
  • The movement of Battery manufacture overseas in 2014 lowered the active growth of Propulsion Battery clusters, which continues to be the same today.
  • Similarly, several areas including Electric Vehicles, Vehicle Propulsion Systems, and Vehicle Safety Systems found an early growth followed by a plateau phase in 2014.

Future IP Trends in the Automotive Industry

The automotive industry experienced a fierce decade with the US auto brands almost losing their way out during the Recession period. Even though the patent filings in the automotive space witnessed a revolutionary increase, US companies acquire only a smaller proportion of it. Indeed, global forces indicate a significant threat to US companies. Moreover, the apparent reversal in global patent application filings also aids in supporting this fact. According to the World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI) report, the last decade showed a steep uptrend in overall growth in IP filings:

  • Key Applicants: The last decade witnessed Toyota, Ford, Hyundai and General Motors as the key automotive patent applicants.
  • Filing Trends: The number of patent applications being filed from the US has fallen below 45% since 2017. Moreover, the European Union and Japan are filing an elevated percentage of automotive IP applications than the US. Furthermore, 2019 almost saw a double registration in 2009’s lowest point pertaining to the number of patent applications filed.
  • Technology Trends: Fuel cell-related IP filings follow a small number but at the same time are also moving ahead as a strong and consistent contender.
  • Future Development Trends: Chinese and Japanese interests have bought major car brands and battery innovators. They are operating ahead with government protection to rule the automotive industry for Electric Vehicles (EVs). Hence, with the highest electric pure-play brand producing automotive vehicles in China, the transit to China for EV innovation is expected to exist in 2020.

The Significant Shift Expected in Consumer Priorities

Until a few years ago, consumers used to prioritize the engine while buying a car. The vast majority of the consumer set would base their decision on the specifications of the engine, coupled with a few other features such as mileage and air conditioning power. But with the turn of the last decade, there has been a stupendous shift in focus towards the technology of the car.

The increase in globalization and the on-going developments in technology have entitled consumers to highly prioritize in-car technology innovations.

The automotive clusters, including the Vehicle control systems, show the highest increase in terms of consumer interest. Moreover, other clusters including AI-integrated vehicles and Ancillary vehicle systems are likely to show a significant increase in terms of innovation trends.

Exemplary Challenges Faced by the Automotive Industry

The exceptional challenges facing the automotive industry need the necessary re-evaluation of the existing IP strategies. For instance, the automotive industry faces:

  • The evolution of autonomous vehicles
  • Supervisory pressures to eliminate and switch from internal combustion vehicles
  • Ambiguity over the tariffs between Europe, the US and other potential countries across the globe.

Challenges including the evolution of autonomous vehicles may require even greater changes in IP approaches. These changes may start with the inclusion of autonomy requiring innovations in artificial intelligence, mapping, sensors and connectivity. It may also trigger new start-ups entering the market to produce new business models revolving around ‘mobility’ as a service. These challenges, together with the advent of the electric drivetrain and fuel-cell development, would require huge investments in research and development processes. Moreover, it may even require buying up into ‘promising’ platforms for future revenues and enhanced customer relationships.

Additionally, the developments in the automotive industry may also increase the challenges faced by the IP industry:

  • Expenses: Research and development is expensive and may involve the infusion of technologies including artificial intelligence, light detection and ranging (LiDAR), etc.
  • New Business Models: The new start-ups entering the market are producing new business models that will threaten the existing ones. Moreover, it may require technology licensing on a wide scale as well.
  • Smartphone Patent Wars: As the advent of such announcements increases, collaboration will become the key to success. Thus, one of the biggest challenges for the IP industry is the smartphone patent war gradually making inroads into the automotive industry.

Patent Filing Trends and Top Patent Holders of AI-Integrated Vehicle System

A large number of companies have contributed to the development of artificial intelligence in the automotive industry. Over the last decade, there has been a huge surge in the patents filed in this field.

This surge in AI automotive patents is in sync with the rapid research and development in the field of AI. The integration of the two is very evident from this graph.

Furthermore, to analyze the top patent holders of this domain, a study conducted on the topic ‘Trends in AI-based Automotive Industry using Patent Analysis’ was referred to.

The study focused on a patent portfolio of 161 patents in the AI Automotive industry, and the conclusion was that 10 companies hold as much as 84% of the patents in the domain, while other companies combine to form the remaining 16%.

From this information, it can be inferred that these 10 tech giants have a stronghold in the AI integrated vehicles domain. Unsurprisingly, IBM, Bosch, and Toyota lead the charge as they are the most-abled companies to integrate AI into the automotive industry.

Implemented AI Techniques

AI broadly contains three techniques namely Conventional Machine Learning (ML), Deep Learning, and Fuzzy Systems. It was observed that the most common technique is conventional machine learning, used in 92% of all the patents. The next group of techniques is deep learning, which is used in 13% of the total number of patents. The least represented technique is fuzzy logic with 4% of patents.

Patent Filing Trends and Top Patent Holders of Ancillary Vehicle System

Since 2010, the US Automotive ancillary industry has experienced a tremendous increase in patent filing. Various factors including the proliferation of electronic components, increasing demand for high energy density and lithium-ion batteries, and low copper brake pads are the major reasons for the growth of the vehicle ancillary market.

Source: https://insights.greyb.com/vehicle-ancillary-patents-us

Ancillary Vehicle System: Top Patent Holders

The graph below shows Ford has filed the maximum number of patents in the Ancillary Vehicle Systems followed by Toyota, General Motors, and Hyundai.

Source: https://insights.greyb.com/vehicle-ancillary-patents-us

Key-points to Consider Under IP Trends in Automotive Space

In addition to the ones listed above, below mentioned trends also play a key role in re-defining the IP approaches used in the automotive industry.

  • Future growth of vehicle patent litigationinvolves high-tech and automotive industries persisting to merge upon. Moreover, it also increases the chances of patent disputes.
  • Increasing trade-secret litigation involves a considerable expansion of corporate entities in Silicon Valley. This litigation is further sustained by employees rapidly moving to new companies.
  • ICT investigations are more prevalent and form an effective tool. The New Federal Circuit decision emphasizes on the impact of ITC rulings.
  • An increased number of patent litigation is expected in the future with the advent of electric and autonomous vehicles coming into the market.
  • Patent filings on vehicle electrification have increased widely.
  • Licensing of technology takes place from software vendors to established players.
  • Wireless players sell the patent licenses to automotive players.
  • License on Transfer (LOT) network for patents seeks to restrict the destructive aspects of patents when transferred from one company to another.
  • First patent tools are appearing in the automotive space:
  • Avanci: the first patent tool offered by LLC on connected cars.
    • Must be associated with a standard to pass antitrust scrutiny.

Other Path-breaking Technologies

Other notable emerging technologies that are now changing the face of automotive industry were something beyond imagination in the last decade. Let’s take a look at how current trends paved way for other technologies.

1.    Autonomous Vehicles

Tesla initiated it and failed at the occasion. However, the failure opened the gateways for more improvement. While Tesla only focused on the surrounding environment, Intvo from the U.S focuses on monitoring pedestrian behaviour. Details like eye-contact and weather conditions are also noted. It also alarms the driver about the risk level to ensure a safer ride.

2.    Additive Manufacturing

An Italian startup Moi uses 3D printing to manufacture fiberglass automotive parts. They use CFM (continuous fiber mechanism). Similarly, a start-up from Switzerland, named 9T Labs, will have software that aids the mass production of carbon-fiber products.

3.    Blockchain

A web of autonomous vehicles demanded a central system, which opened the door for blockchain technology. Internet-driven vehicles are prone to hacking and malware but start-ups like Cube intelligence developed a countermeasure for that. Their blockchain platform blocks hacking attempts and also tracks the real-time movement of the vehicle. Not only mobility, but it also keeps a check on the power and emission of the vehicle and enables safe parking without human effort.

4.    Shared Mobility

It is a path-breaking concept and will have a major impact on the global economy. This sounds similar to Uber and Ola but is 10 times efficient and simple. A start-up named ‘Launch Mobility’ developed a platform for this idea. Apart from offering multiple solutions, their primary goal is to allow customers to use a vehicle from one station to another, pay the charge for that distance, and park the vehicle at the destination. This is called free-floating. It cuts the need for new vehicles and at the same time increases the availability of vehicles around you.

5.    Machine Learning

AI is an ocean of possibilities. Its integration with the automotive industry is a blessing. ‘RevitsOne’ from India aids fleet management. It not only tracks movement but also the vitals. The speed limit and health of the driver are monitored to ensure safety.


Current trends in technology clearly show how AI will rule the automotive sector. It will lay the foundation for all other developments. It won’t be a surprise to see Apple or Google trying their hands at AI in automotive. In terms of application and innovation, autonomous vehicles are on the cards because young urban around the world are refraining from buying a car in a big city. Not only that, a self-driving car’s capability to find the shortest route possible saves both time and power.
Also, sharing mobility poses a great threat to automotive companies. It surely encourages less number of cars in the city. This innovation is not a piece of good news for countries with oil reservoirs. However, these easy automotive services don’t always mean more economic alternatives. The affordability factor of these innovations will impact the global economy in the upcoming decade.

-Vibhor Tiwari, Shubham Bhatt, Juhi Rani, Ishmeet Singh, Meesha Aurora (Marketing) and the Editorial Team

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