Toyota Won More Patents in 2020 than Any Other Automaker

The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded slightly fewer patents in 2020 than in 2019, according to the Intellectual Property Owners Association, but one thing remained the same: Toyota was granted more patents than any other automaker by a fairly substantial margin.

Every year, the IPO puts out a list of the top 300 organizations that have been granted U.S. patents. The top 10 is dominated by big tech corporations led by IBM, Samsung, and LG, but with 2,819 patents secured in 2020, Toyota was comfortably hanging with the big players in 13th place.

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That’s a four-percent increase in Toyota patents compared to 2019, which is well ahead of any other automotive company. The closest automaker was Ford with 2,090 patents, followed by Hyundai with 1,626 patents, and Honda with 1,219 patents. In fact, Toyota received more patents in 2020 than even General Electric, Google’s parent company Alphabet, and Amazon.

“We are pleased to have expanded our patents across a wide range of advanced technology fields over the last year and especially proud of the incredible accomplishments of our team members,” said Toyota’s Frederick Mau.

You may be wondering how a car company’s R&D division can possibly innovate enough to warrant getting nearly 3,000 patents in a single year. But Toyota says that every hour, it invests over $1 million in emerging technology globally — and the race to develop autonomous vehicle technologies has only intensified automakers’ need to make more than just engines and wheels.

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Since 2003, Toyota has received more than 1,400 patents related to autonomous vehicle technologies, and since 2017, it has invested more than $1 billion in R&D related to autonomous vehicle tech and robotics. Last month, the automaker launched the opening event for a new software company and announced it would invest $75 million in universities over the next five years to research robotics and AI.

“Innovation across Toyota is driving our transition to a mobility company, and Toyota’s leading patent portfolio is one important measure of that progress along with our investments in research, collaboration and partnerships,” Mau concluded.

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