Although they are still fairly uncommon, anyone in the automotive manufacturing system can tell you that electric vehicles seem to be the path to the future. With electric vehicles, there will be far less fossil fuel tailpipe emissions. You may have seen electric charging stations at major gas stations recently.
There are still a few issues inherent with electric vehicles. For one thing, charging takes hours, so you will need to be able to park in front of a charging station for some time. This might not be convenient if you have to travel a long distance or take a road trip. But recently patented innovations may change that.
Let’s dive into Ford’s recently granted patent for a wireless EV charging system, as well as the significance of patenting these inventions in the automotive industry.
Ford’s Wireless EV Charging System
Ford Motors has been an innovator since their formation in 1903, when they released the first affordable vehicle — the Model T. They have remained among the top automobile manufacturers in the 120 years since that time, so it’s no surprise that Ford has ventured into the field of electric vehicles: namely the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Ford F-150 Lightning. The F-150 Lightning has even been posited as a potential backup power source for your home if the power cuts.
Recently, Ford received a patent that changes the game when it comes to charging electric vehicles. Their inductive charging system allows an alternative to plugging your electric vehicle into charging stations for hours at a time. With this charging system, you can charge your electric vehicle at home, in the work parking lot, or without even leaving your vehicle.
This inductive charging involves a charging pad which is itself filled up at a charging station, but is then attached to a like component between the two front tires of your vehicle. Simply attach the charging pad and it takes care of the rest. This is similar to the Ford charging pads for smartphones and like devices.
Last year at the Detroit Auto Show, the Ford Mustang Mach-E was shown to use a wireless charging system, showing car enthusiasts and industry professionals the way that these cars may charge in the future. Some industry professionals predict that this is one of the first steps to electric vehicles that are able to charge wirelessly even as you drive.
How Even a Patent Application Helped Ford Protect Their Invention
Ford was granted their patent for their wireless EV charging systems in January of this year, but the Ford Mustang Mach-E was shown to use it at the Detroit Auto Show in September of last year. That means that at the time of the auto show, their wireless charging system patent application was still in review. But even that application helped protect Ford’s intellectual property.
You may have had this concern before: “What if someone else files a patent application for an invention similar to mine before my patent is approved?” The good news is that if there are two similar inventions applying for a patent, but you filed your application first, yours will take priority. If your patent is granted, subsequent applications will be denied.
During the time that your patent application is reviewed, you may — as Ford may have — claim that your product is “patent pending” or “Pat. Pend.” This signals to your competitors that you have a patent application currently in review for the invention that you are now using and offering. If they copy your invention, you may be able to sue them for infringement once your patent is granted — but not before.
This is where patent pending can be a little tricky. It offers you no enforceable protection until the patent is actually granted. But this is far from Ford’s first patent application. The executives at Ford likely felt reasonably confident that their patent would be granted. Thus showing their wireless charging system to the public before the patent had been granted still offered them some protection from their competition. In these cases, a patent pending notice is a way of saying, “Back off, this is ours.”
The patent application process can take well over a year, and you may need to use your invention before your patent is issued. Make sure that it’s clear you have a patent application out to ward off any potential IP theft.
Have An Invention You Want To Patent? Trust Garcia-Zamor
Garcia-Zamor will draft and file your patent application, conduct any necessary research, and keep you posted on how to protect your intellectual property until your patent is issued. Contact us today to learn more about how we can use our over two decades of combined experience to help you.