Over the past 20 years, Chinese auto giant BYD has filed for 16 times as many patents as Tesla, primarily in an effort to safeguard its battery technology. BYD applied for almost 13,000 patents between 2003 and 2022, whereas Tesla only applied for 863 patents for the same period, according to data recently published by Patent Result in Tokyo.
Batteries are encompassed by more than half of BYD’s patents. This is significant and explains why BYD is able to use battery packs it develops in-house rather than having to rely on outside sources, in contrast to the majority of other automakers producing EVs.
The fact that BYD heavily relies on patent protection is significant since its unique battery technologies can be discovered by breaking down its battery packs. In comparison, Tesla seeks to minimize the danger of imitation by other companies by employing solely modern manufacturing technology in its plants. However, the requirement for details to be made public makes patents vulnerable to imitation, as noted by Nikkei Asia.
Tesla is significantly dependent on software and software development, both of which make extensive use of publicly available information, which may help to explain why it has fewer patents. Many of Tesla’s patents, according to Nikkei Asia, deal with the infrastructure for charging EVs and the communication between EVs and drivers.
BYD has emerged as a market leader in the research and production of lithium-ion batteries with iron phosphate cathodes. These batteries are less expensive than those made by competitors that use nickel and cobalt-based ternary lithium batteries.
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