Did Toyota invent the hybrid they use now?

And how much would a car company owe them if they wanted to use the same general disign?

I think they did (the specific hybrid configuration and technical details, not the idea of a hybrid), and both Ford and Nissan have licensed it from them (Escape hybrid, Altima hybrid).

No. Toyota didn’t invent the hybrid concept. But what they did was spend money on research and developement on the hybrid system. And that’s why you see the Prius.

Other manufacturers try to employ this technology into their gas-guzzlers from the past, and this will be their down-fall.


The hybrid concept has been around a long time and is not patentable. Toyota (one engineer in particular) was able to design and build the first workable hybrid design. Honda was close behind with their Insight which uses somewhat different technology but achieves even better (70mpg) results.

Actually the design is part Toyota , part Ford .

Are you sure Toyota’s design is the one you want? Personally, I like Honda’s hybrid better. The difference is Toyota’s runs on the electric motor and only uses the gasoline engine for extra power and to charge the batteries. It gets better fuel economy in stop and go traffic than in highway driving. Honda’s runs on the gas motor and the electric motor only comes on when you need extra power. So it gets better fuel economy on the highway than in stop and go traffic. So there is more than one hybrid concept out there to consider. There might actually be several hybrid concepts to choose from.

I think you are going to need to do some research to find your answer. You need to check to see if there are patents and who owns them. Then you need to contact the patent holders to find out how much they want to charge. There is no quick answer to this question.

Not according to Wikipedia: “Toyota and Ford entered into a licensing agreement in March 2004 allowing Ford to use 20 patents from Toyota related to hybrid technology, although Ford’s engine was independently designed and built. In exchange for the hybrid licenses, Ford licensed patents involving their European diesel engines to Toyota.”

OK, guys, it appears that you are all wrong. A lawsuit was just settled whereby Toyota paid $4.5 million to the inventor for all Priuses built before the settlement date and will continue to pay $25 per car for all future Priuses until the patent expires in 2012. The inventor of the high voltage hybrid is now entering into another lawsuit to get his fair share of the proceeds from all other Toyota hybrids. He turned his Cadillac into a hybrid about 20 years ago. His main contribution seems to be realizing that the system must be high voltage in order to function satisfactorily. His patent extends to anythig operating between 500 volts and 1500 volts. The Toyota hybrids operate at 500 volts.

Troll! Troll! - I am a baaaaad doggie! I thought I’d have a little fun pointing out the mistake that you, and I, made in assuming that Toyota had patents on the technology.

Yes, it looks like they did lose that lawsuit. With such a complex technology there are lots of patents, and Toyota infringed on Paice’s patent. Doesn’t change the fact that Toyota has a large number of patents.

I think one thing most people realize, but is worth mentioning, is that patent holder is not necessarily the inventor. Even when patents are awarded to the actual inventor, they almost always cite prior art that the invention is built upon. We all stand on the shoulders of those that came before us. A prime example of this occurred some years back when Apple and Microsoft were exchanging threats over the GUI we’re all familiar with today. That’s when Xerox (PARC) IIRC, stepped in and said “knock it off” or we’ll sue both of you for infringement.

Identifying a specific, clean room invention is rare these days. The patent is a reflection of who was fastest and/or had the most money and few individual inventors have the wherewithall to fight a protracted battle with a deep pocket corporation.

Good points, TT - the way I read the reports, Paice didn’t do the inventing, they bought up the patents. Several firms make money by buying up patents, then looking for companies to sue…

Patents these days are a joke. The problem is the people in the Patent office have no idea what the technology is…ESPECIALLY SOFTWARE. The last person who was technical enough to work in a Patent office was in Germany about 100 years ago. Some little known patent clerk named Einstein.

I think it’s Amazon that has the Patent on “One Click”. What this means is that no one can write any software where all you do is click ONCE to order something. This is just plain STUPID. IBM has a lawsuit pending saying they have a patent on “Internet Commerce”. They Patented the idea of buying and selling things over the internet.

There is an article in the Baltimore Sun that is detailed enogh to make it clear that Alexander Severinsky formed Paice LLC, with aid from the University of MD and A. S. Abell Co., to design, build, and patent a high voltage, AC motor hybrid system. It’s on the front page of the Monday 10/27/2008 paper (www.baltimoresun.com). The patent infringement was not the point of the article. Severinsky will be inducted into the UMd technology Hall of Fame for his work in hybrid auto engine technology.

And anyone who thinks that Toyota inadvertantly stepped on Mr. Severinsky’s toes is just a bit naive. They have a staff that tracks patents so that they know what the competition is doing. I won’t hypothesize about why they thought they coild get away with it, but I would be astounded at the very least if they did not know about Mr. Severinsky’s US patents.

Well…Severinsky sued over several patents, one was held infringed. He did his work in '99, several years after the initial Prius, so it’s not like he invented hybrids.

Yes, patents are getting to be somewhat ridiculous. We have to work around them every day. The patent office is swamped and I agree with your premise that they do not have the most technically savvy people on the payroll. They award some of the most ridiculous patents for things that are amazingly obvious. What about patents given for genetic sequencing found in nature? IMO, that’s a discovery, not an invention. By doing so, the patent office is meddling in helping corporations protect their investment in what I believe is fundamental research. They have no business in that arena.

Actually, the work was done in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The patent was awarded in 1992 (expires 20-years later - 2012). I do need both hands, but that’s 7 years earlier than your figure.

I’m sure he did something to warrant his patent and legal award. He didn’t invent the hybrid concept. Here’s Wiki’s telling (note no mention of Severinsky):

"A more recent working prototype of the HEV was built by Victor Wouk (one of the scientists involved with the Henney Kilowatt, the first transistor-based electric car). Wouk’s work with HEVs in the 1960s and 1970s earned him the title as the “Godfather of the Hybrid”.[4] Wouk installed a prototype hybrid drivetrain (with a 16 kW electric motor) into a 1972 Buick Skylark provided by GM for the 1970 Federal Clean Car Incentive Program, but the program was stopped by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1976 while Eric Stork, the head of the EPA at the time, was accused of a prejudicial coverup.[5]

The regenerative braking system, the core design concept of most production HEVs, was developed by electrical engineer David Arthurs around 1978 using off-the shelf components and an Opel GT. However the voltage controller to link the batteries, motor (a jet-engine starter motor), and DC generator was Arthurs’. The vehicle exhibited 75 mpg?U.S. (3.14 L/100 km / 90.1 mpg?imp) fuel efficiency and plans for it (as well as somewhat updated versions) are still available through the Mother Earth News web site. The Mother Earth News’ own 1980 version claimed nearly 84 mpg?U.S. (2.8 L/100 km / 100.9 mpg?imp).

In 1989, Audi produced its first iteration of the Audi Duo (or Audi 100 Avant duo) experimental vehicle, a plug-in parallel hybrid based on the Audi 100 Avant quattro. This car had a 12.6 bhp Siemens electric motor which drove the rear wheels. A trunk-mounted nickel-cadmium battery supplied energy to the motor that drove the rear wheels. The vehicle’s front wheels were powered by a 2.3-litre five-cylinder engine with an output of 136 bhp. The intent was to produce a vehicle which could operate on the engine in the country and electric mode in the city. Mode of operation could be selected by the driver. Just ten vehicles are believed to have been made; one drawback was that due to the extra weight of the electric drive, the vehicles were less efficient when running on their engines alone than standard Audi 100s with the same engine.

Two years later, Audi, unveiled the second duo generation - likewise based on the Audi 100 Avant quattro. Once again this featured an electric motor, a 28.6 bhp three-phase machine, driving the rear wheels. This time, however, the rear wheels were additionally powered via the Torsen differential from the main engine compartment, which housed a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine.

The Bill Clinton administration initiated the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) program on 29 September 1993 that involved Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, USCAR, the DoE, and other various governmental agencies to engineer the next efficient and clean vehicle.[6] The NRC cited automakers? moves to produce HEVs as evidence that technologies developed under PNGV were being rapidly adopted on production lines, as called for under Goal 2. Based on information received from automakers, NRC reviewers questioned whether the ?Big Three? would be able to move from the concept phase to cost effective, pre-production prototype vehicles by 2004, as set out in Goal 3.[7] The program was replaced by the hydrogen-focused FreedomCAR initiative by the George W. Bush administration in 2001,[8] an initiative to fund research too risky for the private sector to engage in, with the long-term goal of developing effectively carbon emission- and petroleum-free vehicles."

"I’m sure he did something to warrant his patent and legal award. He didn’t invent the hybrid concept. Here’s Wiki’s telling (note no mention of Severinsky): "

Nor did anyone you mentioned. Hybrids have been around for over 100 years. Severinsky’s patentable contribution was to use a high voltage AC motor. That’s what Toyota uses, hence the infringement.