Turns out, big business can play nice.  In an effort to encourage innovation, Ford Motor Company recently announced that it will allow competitors to access its patents relating to electric and hybrid vehicle technology.  Executive Chairman William Clay Ford, Jr. says that the release of the patents was for “industry-wide research and development of electrified vehicles” and the goal of sharing the patent portfolio is mainly to spur innovative development.  By sharing ideas, competitors can allow for more industry wide development and faster results. Sharing data and patents is also expected to allow for the mass production of electric cars so that they become more affordable for consumers.

 The Ford patent portfolio at issue is substantial.  In 2014 alone, Ford filed for over 400 patents relating to electric vehicles.  In addition, Ford owns over 650 such patents, with an additional 1,000 patents currently pending in the area of electric and hybrid vehicle technology.

Any company interested in investigating this technology can either contact Ford’s technology commercialization office or access the patents through AutoHarvest, which is a website for members to share and explore new technologies.  Ford is a co-founder of AutoHarvest.  There will be a fee to access the patents.

Ford’s sharing of its patent portfolio is well intended.  However, it also makes good business sense.  If new developments are made based on Ford’s technology, there is a potential licensing stream or other business arrangement in Ford’s favor.   The electric car market is fast-growing, Ford has an opportunity to capitalize on continued growth of the electric and hybrid vehicle markets as well as future battery developments. 

Patent sharing seems to be a recent trend for automobile companies, but Tesla was in the forefront.   Last year, Elon Musk of Tesla released Tesla patents relating to electric vehicle and battery technology to help other companies produce better electric cars, and boost consumer confidence when switching to electric cars.  Musk was quoted as being “frustrated” that other companies had not yet produced long-range electric cars. The likely thinking for Tesla and Ford is that speeding the adoption of electric vehicle and battery technology will help their organizations more than their competitors.  

Capitalizing on innovative developments is critical to any organization.  Having the right person to help you make those decisions is important.  The Law Office of Kathleen Lynch PLLC is designed to help businesses such as yours keep ahead of the game.   The first telephone consultation is free.  Email us at