Jul 7, 2017

Companies following in Tesla's footsteps (similar inventions by examiner citations)

Tesla (Tesla Inc. or Tesla Motors), led by Elon Musk, is at the forefront of innovation in sustainable energy consumption for transport (Electric vehicles - EVs) as well as sustainable energy generation and storage. As a move to encourage cooperation amongst EV players, Elon Musk has also publically mentioned that all Tesla patents are 'open source' - Tesla will not litigate if someone infringes their patents. Some believe this is too good to be true, and some call this as genius marketing.

The focus of this post is to analyse the forward citations of Tesla Motors' patents to see who is citing the innovative pure-electric car manufacturer's patents and other interesting insights that can be generated by analysing these citations. A thing to note here is that these citations are examiner citations: that is, the examiner while examining a certain patent felt the need to cite a Tesla motor's patent.
Essentially, these companies are doing things very similar to Tesla - some might say even copying Tesla and its electric vehicle strategy.

Companies whose patents cite Tesla Motor's patents

Looking at the data from January 2017 until now, we can see the top 10 companies receiving examiner citations of Tesla's patents on their patent filings. These are all types of citations
Theory (T), Technology Background (A, E), Cited in Application (D, L), Relevant if Combined (Y w O, P, R), and, the most exciting, Highly Relevant (X)

Although all citations show connection, knowledge flow, and the relationship between two patents, the most important analysis insights can be extracted through 'Highly Relevant' citations.

Looking at data from last 5 years, and only restricting the citation search on citationeagle.com to 'Highly relevant' citations, we can further narrow down companies trying to patent something that Tesla has already invented and patented.

Here are the top 10 companies with the highest number of Tesla Motor's patent citations.

Companies who are trying to patent what Tesla Motors has already patented

Although this is a grey area - examiner citations of highly relevant (x) category can be further contested by the inventor to prove how their invention is different - we can still call these as 'similar' (and maybe not the same) inventions.

This list includes major automotive OEMs and Tier1 players. So, what are they patenting that's similar to Tesla Motors? Here's a list I made using few patent examples:

Bosch's inventions similar to Tesla Motors' inventions (citations)

  1. Battery system with potting compound (WO2017060038)
  2. Charging Device for electric vehicles with two charging circuits (WO2016030135)
  3. Regenerating a rechargeable metal-air battery (WO2015197347)

Audi's inventions similar to Tesla Motors' inventions (citations)

  1. Determining range of electric or hybrid vehicles in context of various parameters (CN103168211)
  2. Vehicle control system for fully or partially electric vehicle (WO2015024623)
  3. Electric vehicle charging system with charge indicator (WO2014026725)

Volkswagen's inventions similar to Tesla Motors' inventions (citations)

  1. Battery housing with integrated cooling (WO2017045877)
  2. Removing heat from a traction battery (WO2017021016)
  3. Climate control in an electric vehicle (EP3035180)

Renault's inventions similar to Tesla Motors' inventions (citations)

  1. Flat frame module for electric vehicle chassis (FR3000920)
  2. Regulating charge level of a traction battery in an electric vehicle (FR2992779)

Continental's inventions similar to Tesla Motors' inventions (citations)

  1. Capacitive touch panel for operating unit (WO2015067803)
  2. Speed-window based control strategy for electric vehicles (WO2013087479)

There are many others, and very interesting insights can be generated by detailed analysis of what elements of a company's inventions bear some similarity to Tesla Motors' inventions.


For more information on the tool used to do this analysis, check out my post about citationeagle.com and its features

Did you know that Elon Musk patented an earlier version of google maps and internet calling long back?