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Toyota beat all its carmaker competitors for the title of most US patent filings last year, hands down. The Intellectual Property Owners Association reported that Toyota had 1,491 patents issued in 2012 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. So, what is Toyota doing to generate that many patents?

Two Toyota engineers each earned their 20th patent in 2012.

Toyota is driven to invention by its "commitment to ever better cars that achieve new environmental, safety and technological advancements," the company said in its press release (available below). Or, as USA Today put it, patents "reflect automakers' successes in research and development and also signal their ability to create tomorrow's breakthroughs." Two Toyota engineers at the Toyota Technical Center (TTC) in Michigan, Minjuan Zhang, manager, Toyota Research Institute NA, and Charan Lota, manager, electronic systems at TTC, each earned their 20th patent in 2012.

Toyota's overall patent figure shot up 30 percent compared to 2011 as part of Toyota's commitment to fostering ingenuity and staying in touch with what customers want, according to Toyota. It makes sense that Toyota is investing in innovations as government and consumers expect more from automakers with connected cars, safety and green, advanced technologies. Toyota's recent patents have been filed to cover a gamut of new technologies, things like "smart materials" that help resist insect splatter and improvements in vehicle communication systems.

Toyota may have won the 2012 challenge, but General Motors and Honda say they lead the way when it comes to fuel cell patents, which may be important since the two companies just announced a hydrogen partnership. Specifically, the two companies said, they "rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in total fuel cell patents filed between 2002 and 2012, with more than 1,200 between them."
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Toyota Leads All Automakers in 2012 U.S. Patents Issued

Two Toyota Michigan Engineers Each Earn Their 20th Patents

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (July 5, 2013) -- The United States Patent and Trademark Office issued more patents to Toyota's innovative designers and engineers in 2012 than to any other automaker, according to a recently-released survey by the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO). The 1,491 patents issued to Toyota companies demonstrate Toyota's commitment to ever better cars that achieve new environmental, safety and technological advancements.

"Since the days of Toyota's founding, innovation has been a cornerstone of Toyota's success," said Kristen Tabar, vice president, electrical systems engineering, Toyota Technical Center (TTC), a division of Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing, Inc. (TEMA). "We're driven to listen to our customers and develop new ways to improve their experience."

Toyota companies received thirty percent more patents in 2012 than the previous year, illustrating the company's increasing success in fostering ingenuity and keeping a keen focus on the customer.
Whether it's creating "smart materials" that can help cars resist insect splatter or improving vehicle communication systems, Toyota leads the way in anticipating and engineering the cars of tomorrow for today.

The Toyota Technical Center, located in Ann Arbor and Saline, Michigan, recently held their annual patent awards ceremony to honor last year's patent recipients. Two team members each received their 20th patent in 2012, Minjuan Zhang, manager, Toyota Research Institute NA (TRINA) and Charan Lota, manager, electronic systems at Toyota Technical Center (TTC).

"Toyota is a great place to be an inventor," said Ms. Zhang. "Everyone here is passionate about improving the customer's experience and it shows in the product."

"You can tell a lot about a company by the new ideas they generate," said Mr. Lota. "And, what these patents show about Toyota is that we are never going to stop trying to make better cars."

For more than 35 years, Toyota Technical Center (TTC), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing, NA, Inc. has been the driving force behind Toyota's North American engineering and research & development activities. Established in 1977 and headquartered in Michigan, TTC has R&D facilities in Ann Arbor, Saline, Plymouth and Livonia. In addition, TTC has R&D facilities in California and operates the Toyota Arizona Proving Ground near Phoenix.

TTC employs over 1,100 team members and is engaged in engineering design, vehicle evaluation, materials research, prototype building, powertrain tuning, safety/crashworthiness, regulatory affairs and advanced research for Toyota and Lexus vehicles manufactured or sold in North America. TTC has developed the Avalon, Camry, Sienna, Tacoma, Tundra, Venza and RAV4 EV.

For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyota.com or www.toyotanewsroom.com.