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Toyota Shares Fuel Cell Patents

Since the release of the Toyota Mirai fuel cell car during the 2014 Los Angeles auto show, Toyota has announced a new strategy to help give the fuel cell industry a boost.  The company has made over 5,000 of its fuel cell related patents available for royalty-free use.  Included in the list of patents are over 3,000 related to fuel cell system software control and nearly 2,000 related to fuel cell stacks.   

In the past decade, fuel cell technology has increased both in research and development, with auto and residential industries contributing the most so far.  However, the recent drop in gasoline prices could put the green movement temporarily on hold, as Toyota has already seen a  major decline in sales of its once popular Prius. 

A recent Time article noted that the decrease in gas prices has certainly played a role in an increased interest in SUVs, with Rolls-Royce pulling off record-high sales in 2014.  Toyota is still pushing for a “hydrogen society,” though, and hopes that its shared IP will help kick-start the still fairly new industry.  The company has also showed significant financial support for hydrogen refueling stations, loaning over $7 million to FirstElement Fuels to promote 19 different stations throughout California. 

In a recent press release regarding the patents, Senior VP of Automotive Operations at Toyota, Bob Carter, stated that “At Toyota, we believe that when good ideas are shared, great things can happen…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.”