Autonomous Vehicle Design Patents: A Patentcloud Analysis

March 10th, 2020 ‧ 3 min read

In this article:

In our previous article, we took a look at the emerging autonomous vehicle market, related design patents, and what we can expect in the future. In this article, we will take a look at the autonomous vehicle-related design patents using Patent Search by Patentcloud.


What is Patent Search?

Patent Search is an AI-powered patent search tool with a high-quality database at its core.

Patent Search has many useful features and functions such as:

Standardized, processed patent data which includes the current legal status, current assignee, and estimated expiration date of the patent.

Global coverage of 100+ countries, including the major authoritative offices: USPTO, EPO, JPO, KIPO, CNIPA, TIPO, and WIPO.

Semantic search, advanced search, keyword expansion, and smart search to ensure highly accurate actionable results.


Which Patent Data Did We Collect?

We utilized Patent Search to collect the following patent data:

  • Patent office
  • Patent legal status
  • Standard assignees
  • Inventors
  • Application date trends
  • Estimated expiry date trends

It’s worth noting at this stage that the total number of autonomous vehicle-related design patents in our database is currently 43 (as of 2020-03-10.)


Our Findings

Patent Office Distribution

As you can see from the chart above, the majority of autonomous vehicle-related design patent applications were filed at the USPTO.

Patent Legal Status

This chart shows that almost all of the 43 patents are active (41). There is 1 abandoned patent and 1 revoked patent.

Upon further inspection, we discovered that the abandoned patent was abandoned for non-payment, the patent number in question is JP1302532S. The expired patent is USD476340 which was a design patent entitled “autonomous vehicle.”

The expired autonomous vehicle design patent: USD476340

Standard Assignees

This chart illustrates the standard assignees. Google absolutely dominates the field with 28 patent applications, Waymo comes in second place with 6 applications, and Deere & Co takes third place with 4 applications.


The above chart shows the inventors of the autonomous vehicle-related design patents. Leading the pack is YouJung Ahn. YouJung Ahn is the lead industrial designer for Waymo, Google’s self-driving technology company.

Application Date Trends

What’s interesting about the patent application date trends is the significant spike that occurred in 2014. We believe that this spike was due to Google preparing for the announcement of its prototype autonomous vehicle “Firefly”.

As you can see from the data gathered from Patent Search in the chart below, all of the design patent applications related to autonomous vehicles were made by Google in 2014.

At the end of May 2014, Google revealed the new prototype of its autonomous car. This vehicle had no steering wheel, gas pedal, or brake pedal. The fully working prototype was announced in December 2014 and the road tests were due to start in the San Francisco Bay Area at the beginning of 2015. The vehicle was actually meant to serve as a platform for learning and experimentation, not for mass production.

Unfortunately, Google retired Firefly in 2017.

The retired Google Firefly

Estimated Expiry Date Trends

The chart above shows the estimated expiry dates of the patents. To find out more about patent expiration dates, how to calculate them, and why they matter so much, check out our article here.


Final Thoughts

It is interesting to point out that even though the commercialization of autonomous vehicles has not yet happened, it is certainly worthwhile keeping our eyes on the design patent deployment of those autonomous vehicle design patent owners.


Free Trial and Further Information

To find out more about Patent Search, check out the video below!

To experience the power of Patent Search today, simply click here to access a 7-day free trial.

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