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GM leads in clean-energy US patents in 2010

15 April 2011

General Motors received more clean-energy patents last year than any other organization, according to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI) of US patents.

The Clean Energy Patent Growth Index tracks the granting of US patents in solar, wind, hybrid/electric vehicles, fuel cells, hydroelectric, tidal/wave, geothermal, biomass/biofuels and clean, renewable energy. GM’s 135 patents represent nearly 14% of the total 1,881 received by 700 entities.

GM’s patents covered hybrid electric vehicles, fuel cells and solar energy, and focused on improvements to current and future technologies. Here are a few of last year’s inventions:

  • Multi-injection combustion cycle systems for spark ignition direct injection engines: Improves fuel and air mixing, and reduces hydrocarbon emissions during engine startup and cranking.

  • Dynamically adaptive method for determining a battery’s state of charge: Improves fuel economy with a new algorithm that estimates a lithium-ion battery’s internal parameters in real time.

  • Electrically variable transmission having three planetary gear sets with two fixed interconnections: Ultra-efficient hybrid electric vehicle transmission design that features low electrical losses, high torque capacity and city and highway modes.

  • Variable active fuel management delay with hybrid start-stop: Control system that seamlessly integrates active fuel management with start-stop for additional fuel savings.

  • Control of hybrid power regeneration during cruise control: Uses regenerative braking so the onboard battery can be charged during vehicle operation, saving fuel.

  • Method of operating a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle: Involves operating a heater when the vehicle is cold to preheat the battery, improving electric driving range.

GM received 940 US patents in 2010, placing it in the top 25 of all companies. This includes sectors such as information technology and consumer electronics.

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Comments

So I remember where I am (online) could someone please make a disparaging remark?

"Method of operating a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle: Involves operating a heater when the vehicle is cold to preheat the battery, improving electric driving range."

This one seems rather obvious and should not be patented.

Yeah, I agree. GM says they will actually start the Volt ICE on very cold days/nights to heat the battery rather than use battery power alone. Maybe that's what they want to patent.

At the risk of repeating myself, patents discourage innovation and do not encourage it. Many times advances are variations on a theme and should continue to be so.

Well, that's not entirely true. Much as some consensians don't believe it - competition, secured by patent law, guarantees an inventor the fruit of his labor. This drives innovation as the motive for enrichment is powerful.

Were all innovation turned over to the collective without benefit to the inventor - there will be few inventions. Reward for effort is a good thing.

But patents issued to monopolize a market or design is an abuse of patent intent. It is up to patent courts to throw out a patent used merely to block development of competing systems. This requires increasing sophistication on the part of courts and the patent office. Which means more JOBS for people with technical ability in patent law.

NOTE: Not every patent lawyer is a happy lawyer - take Harriet Korn for example:

http://www.nbc.com/harrys-law/

Patents should be to recover development costs, not a monopoly licence for 20 years. If you do not take your patent to market in a reasonable time frame, you lose your patent. If you sit on a patent to sue, you will pay punitive damages.

SJC - Not necessarily. Often those patents are held onto in order to maximize as much profit as possible, before leasing it out to other entities.
The question is whether GM is actually going to use any of this tech, along with all the other patents it's sitting on, or simply use the patents to stonewall future develop so they can sell their gas-suckers to the US public.
Y'notice they never seem to have a problem using this new tech on cars in Asia and Europe.

Investors like patents because they represent a monopoly license asset. Every capitalist wants a monopoly where they control the market and prices. They want competition in their suppliers but not in their markets, because that puts pressure on profit margins and they will not stand for that.

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