Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Patents Transportation Your Rights Online

Patent Claim Could Block Import of Toyota's Hybrid Cars 451

Posted by timothy
from the advancing-the-useful-arts-and-sciences dept.
JynxMe writes "Paice is a tiny Florida company that has patented a way to apply force to a car's wheels from an electric motor or internal combustion engine. Paice thinks that Toyota is infringing on its technology, and is going after the automaker in court. The legal spat became much more serious for Toyota this week, when the US International Trade Commission decided to investigate the matter. In the worst-case scenario for Toyota, the commission could ban the hybrid Camry, third-generation Prius, Lexus HS250h sedan and Lexus RX450h SUV."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Patent Claim Could Block Import of Toyota's Hybrid Cars

Comments Filter:
  • That's bright! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phocutus (670853) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:14PM (#29686081) Homepage
    Now that's a productive way to encourage Electric hybrids! WTF is wrong with these morons.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nomadic (141991)
      Now that's a productive way to encourage Electric hybrids!

      Uhhh...So you think this company, Paice, was formed in order to encourage Electric hybrids? I would assume they were formed to make money.

      WTF is wrong with these morons.

      If they honestly think they have a claim, then it would be absurd not to go after it. What would you have them do instead?
      • Re:That's bright! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JLF65 (888379) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:31PM (#29686265)

        What would you have them do instead?

        How about work for a living instead of patenting vague ideas and waiting for a company to make something that sort of resembles it?

        • Re:That's bright! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by jim_v2000 (818799) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:35PM (#29686305)
          A one sentence summary is vague. Their patent filing is not.
          • by pembo13 (770295) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:51PM (#29687049) Homepage

            The one sentence summary itself should be innovative, if we really must have patents. The summary should blow my mind and make me think the inventor is a genius.

          • Re:That's bright! (Score:5, Informative)

            by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunity@yah ... om minus painter> on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:35PM (#29687415) Homepage

            You're right. I have actually read a good portion of the patent and it's very specific about the fact that a ton of prior art already exists!

            In fact, the patent basically says "well we added an AC induction motor to drive the wheels, AND it has a gasoline engine and regenerative braking". From looking at the dates on the patent, I can tell you there is nothing novel about it. It is a basic building blocks continuation of existing technology.

            • Re:That's bright! (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:21AM (#29688983)

              Their first claim describes a system with three electric motors. The Prius has two. How does that infringe?

              Also, they mention the Prius and published articles describing how the Prius works as prior art in their patent application. These articles were published before their earliest application. If they were describing something that was used in the Prius, it would have been invalidated by the prior art that they listed!

              Therefore, they are describing something that is different than the Prius, and the Patent Troll court in Texas strikes again!

              If I ever have to sue anyone for patent infringement, I will surely go there - it appears as if you can't lose!!!

          • Re:That's bright! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Friday October 09, 2009 @03:47AM (#29689779)

            This is the problem with Patents ..... does anyone really think that Toyota copied this companies idea, does anyone think that this company would become internationally known for their hybrid cars if Toyota had not produced hybrid cars instead.... No...

            So why does the patent system protect them, and allow them to block another companies products from sale ....?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by BLKMGK (34057)

              Do you REALLY believe that a large company, say Ford, has never stolen an idea from an inventor and tried to steamroll them? Intermittent wipers anyone?

              I agree in this time of patent trolls that more and more shenanigans are occurring but that doesn't mean that some large company wouldn't take an idea and run with it - you make it sound like they are above this and that's crazy. It HAS happened in the past, it WILL happen in the future, and if you're the inventor you could easily go broke trying to defend y

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by bzipitidoo (647217)
                Of course steamrolling has happened. I'd like a new system set up in which it can't. What I mean is, if there were no speed limits, it would be impossible to speed. Can't get a parking ticket for an expired meter if the parking space isn't metered. Same thing with intellectual property. If ideas couldn't be owned, they couldn't be stolen. And they couldn't be hoarded, buried, blocked, squelched, forgotten or anything else contrary to the intent of advancement. The saddest use of a patent has to be to
        • Re:That's bright! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:44PM (#29686405)

          How about work for a living instead of patenting vague ideas and waiting for a company to make something that sort of resembles it?

                Believe you me, I want to see more of these patent trolls. Keep them coming until the system breaks.

                Just like medical predators and ambulance chasing lawyers, I congratulate them for driving health care costs to the point where litigation avoidance - not patient care or comfort, is the deciding factor in medical decisions. No one can afford to get sick without insurance in the US, and frankly not everyone can even afford the insurance. Thus, the health care system is broken, and thus - it HAS to get fixed NOW.

                Hopefully the same thing will happen with patents.

                Now don't get me started on copyrights... nah, you can download the torrent...

          • Re:That's bright! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by sofar (317980) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:11PM (#29686709) Homepage

            Just like medical predators and ambulance chasing lawyers, I congratulate them for driving health care costs to the point where litigation avoidance - not patient care or comfort, is the deciding factor in medical decisions. No one can afford to get sick without insurance in the US, and frankly not everyone can even afford the insurance. Thus, the health care system is broken, and thus - it HAS to get fixed NOW.

            What makes you assume that it will get fixed? As far as I can see, there is a significant portion of people in the government that would love to continue seeing it "broken". As a matter of fact, plenty of people will attest that US health care is not broken at all.

            Personally, I don't think that "US health care" even exists.... but that's just me.

            • Re:That's bright! (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:52PM (#29687055)

              What makes you assume that it will get fixed?

                    Because I'm a fully qualified, board certified specialist who COULD practice medicine in the US, but refuses to because it's too much hassle. And what's worse is, I'm not the only one. There are many, many physicians who have opted out of medicine and into something less stressful (and potentially disastrous in financial terms). A country that encourages trained specialists to actually work in something less risky because of litigation or even worse, having insurance companies practice medicine by telling doctors what to do and what not to do, is a bit screwed up.

                    But then again I forget, this is the US we are talking about. A country that owes the world close to 12 trillion dollars (not counting social security and health care), is printing money like mad, has double digit unemployment (17% if you look at U-6), whose own government admits unavoidable financial armaggeddon [moneyandmarkets.com], and yet has a stock market that rallies 40% with apparently no end in sight... Yeah, I guess anything could happen.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Grishnakh (216268)

            ust like medical predators and ambulance chasing lawyers, I congratulate them for driving health care costs to the point where litigation avoidance - not patient care or comfort, is the deciding factor in medical decisions. No one can afford to get sick without insurance in the US, and frankly not everyone can even afford the insurance. Thus, the health care system is broken, and thus - it HAS to get fixed NOW.

            Wrong.

            Yes, you're partially correct about why health care is so expensive: it's mainly I think due

            • Re:That's bright! (Score:4, Insightful)

              by lgw (121541) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:44PM (#29687475) Journal

              A system where the loser pays the winner the lesser of the two sides legal fees (i.e., it never costs you more than twice your own costs to sue) is a much more workable system. It's trivial for a large business to game the system by always incurring $3 million in legal fees when defending against each claim, thereby chilling even the most reasonable suits.

        • Re:That's bright! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Locutus (9039) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:37PM (#29686941)
          when I was researching the Prius and it's hybrid system in the late 90s and the year 2000, it was well known by the hybrid techies that a very old patent( expired ) used the design of the power split device( planetary gears ) used by Toyota. I don't think it brought in a 2nd motor and used it as both a motor and generator as Toyota did but the basic concepts were all there in the public domain.

          not to mention that the patent listed was filed in 2006. Toyota had their hybrid system running in cars in Japan as early as 1997. Those jurists much have been morons to have awarded that case against Toyota.

          LoB
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mr. Freeman (933986)
          Did you read the patent or are you just assuming that because it's about a patent that it's also frivolous. There are a lot of bad patents out there, but assuming that they're all garbage isn't conducive to fixing the situation of bad patents. It just creates more noise in every discussion about patents.
      • Re:That's bright! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:40PM (#29686363)

        If they honestly think they have a claim, then it would be absurd not to go after it.

              Read as: It doesn't cost all that much to file a patent, let's threaten to sue and see if Toyota will settle. Even if we only make a couple hundred thousand, Toyota will be happy to have the FTC off their back, and we'll have paid our costs for incorporation, and filing this (bogus) patent.

        • Re:That's bright! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by serbanp (139486) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:04PM (#29686631)

          Well, the issue here is that the fucked-up US PTO granted the patent in question, not that a few morons filed it. B.t.w., the filing date is May 2006, well after the second generation Prius cars hit the US market.

          How can someone be granted a patent for something that is already mass-produced by someone else can be explain by either unlimited greed or stupidity or both.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Moridineas (213502)

            Where's the info that the patent covers technology used in 2nd generation Priuses?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kartoffel (30238)

        Making money is only a means to an end. Why don't the people who make up Paice engage in something more productive?

        On the other hand, maybe Toyota really is doing something unique and non-obvious with hybrid propulsion and Paice can prove prior art. It could be, but in this day and age of patent trolls, i am skeptical.

      • Re:That's bright! (Score:5, Informative)

        by icebike (68054) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:33PM (#29686903)

        I suspect they were formed to troll patents.

        After all the Prius, embodying virtually ALL of these claims was ON SALE in Japan in 1997, after MANY years in development.

        These guys first filed in 1998, and kept re-filing till they were spot on.

        How likely is it they were following the published research in this field (or had a mole in Toyota) and cobbled something together and rushed to the patent office? Since Toyota was SELLING it BEFORE they filed you can pretty well assume this is the case given the lead time required to bring a vehicle to market.

        The prior patents were not enough to keep Prius out of the US, and this one won't be either.

        Start by reading the patent claims and the dates involved. Follow it back to the patents they claim this was based on.

        Their earlier patent 6,554,088 did not mention AC-to-DC conversion. Only AFTER Toyota move to AC-DC conversion did this company start inserting that term into their applications. Further, this patent even references the Toyota transmission and the Prius by name.

        The current patent is therefore based on a patent which already recognized the Prius.

        So, Troll, or non-applicable, take your choice.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Technician (215283)

        I don't think they have a claim. Read the patent. Other than sharing either electric or gas or both, the patent is not even close. The Prius engine runs to maintain battery charge and engine temperature. The patent claims electric unless the power demand is above 30 of the gas engine capacity so it only runs in a high effeciency power band. There are some things that resemble each other, The patent is so far off it would like Microsoft unable to use a graphical user interface because Apple patented the

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by PalmKiller (174161)
      This is where the president outta step in and stop the stifling of the hybrid market by null and voiding any such patents, it would be much better than cash for clunkers...and not cost us a dime. The car companies in the US and Japan could then stop suing each other and get down to designing the best hybrids, unhindered by crap like this from other car manufacturers and individuals.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by siddesu (698447)

        The president is represented in this dispute by the US International Trade Commission, which goal is to protect US companies from (unfair, they say) foreign competition.

        Stopping import is very unlikely IMHO, but we'll see - with the huge investment of your tax money into electric sports cars I wouldn't be much surprised by anything.

  • The US is not the market for Toyota it once was. The reasons for selling into the US are declining with each passing year and Prius are showing up on used lots in increasing numbers, so I doubt the boys in Toyota Town will lose much sleep over this bit of news either way.
    • Re:Yes, but.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dvorakkeyboardrules (1652653) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:21PM (#29686155)
      Typically Toyota uses the US market to drive design improvements that they want to make and can't pay for at home via high profit margin specialty items. This is why they created the EV RAV4 way back in 1994 and the first round of PRIUS sedans when California backed off the polution requirements. Those early models were a way to pay the designers and engineers to improve the technology and get smarter without loosing buckets of money. Currently they are packing high demand US cars with extras like navigation (and solar panels starting next year) to increase the volume of the technology they want to use elsewhere on other things to drive down costs. Great smart marketing and management by them when they sucker us into paying high prices for these extras but we want the cars so we pay up and they make a lot of extra profit.......

      Honda has been doing the same thing with engine technology in other products like race cars, snow blowers, ATVs and motor cycles for years. The technology and design features discovered and the factories built for one product pays for the design improvements in other places like great small cars......

      C'est la vie.....
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by postbigbang (761081)

        So they ostensibly lose a little money and 'dump' cars in to the US. Not all of us are suckered into bloated options-- and US car makers are famous for them, too. That they were able to find a market is a good thing. US Prius owners get the benefit of higher resale value for not only mpg but overall quality aids resale and ownership costs, too. Sour grapes, dude.

        The remaining US automakers could learn a few lessons. Look at how well NUMMI cars continue to sell.

    • by sofar (317980)

      well, THIS certainly is a great way to make the US market even less appealing for Toyota.

      All this will accomplish is: more expensive cars, less innovation, less competition. Exactly what patents are designed to achieve.

    • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:22PM (#29686169)
      *giggle* Couldn't they argue the patent validity based on PRIUS use?

      *guffaw*
    • Right now Toyota is selling the Prius in the US about as fast as they can make them. Go talk to a dealer now and see what you have to choose from. Chances are you will need to order from the factory. As for showing up on used lots? Yes, I would expect as time passes and more new units are sold into the US, the numbers on used lots would eventually increase.

    • Re:Yes, but.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tthomas48 (180798) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:38PM (#29686333) Homepage

      "The US is not the market for Toyota it once was. The reasons for selling into the US are declining with each passing year and Prius are showing up on used lots in increasing numbers"

      * citation needed

      I fail to understand this as Toyota outsells GM worldwide, and is within a few points in the US. Perhaps you're just seeing more Priuses (Priusi?) on used car lots because dealers are stocking what people want, and cash for clunkers took a lot of US cars out of the used car market?

      The KBB of an 8 year old Prius is still around $10k. So, um... dunno what you're saying.

    • Sales figures do not support your claim, sales are about the same on the camry and tundra, the tacoma only dropped slightly...probably due to the slightly higher tundra sales with the new bodystyle. Even in this declining market, the toyotas are selling. And just by observation, you have obviously not looked around lately. I see a lot of toyotas down here in the southern states. Many prius, tundras, tacomas, sienna vans, you name it. I think if anything the toyota sales here have increased by several m
  • Filing date (Score:5, Informative)

    by glam0006 (471393) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:16PM (#29686113)

    The filing date is May 8, 2006. Really? This technology wasn't around before then?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sharkb8 (723587)
      The chain of priority goes back to 1999.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Toyota has been making the Prius since 1997.

    • Perhaps they did not go back far enough? Diesel-electric transmission has been around since the 1920's. From the 1960's until they electrified the line the East Coast Mainline in the UK ran Diesel-Electric trains. Of course the system is somewhat simpler than hybrid cars but the basic principle is the same: fuel runs generator and the generator charges batteries and powers electric traction motors.
    • by toppavak (943659)
      Exactly, how can a technology brought to market in 2001 violate a patent filed in 2006? Or, how come a patent that applies to a technology that was brought to market in 2001 be granted when it was filed in 2006?
    • by aqui (472334) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:06PM (#29686645)

      Yes and the Toyota Prius has been around since err

      1997.

      (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prius)

      and it was sold worldwide since 2001 (I'm assuming that includes the US).

      If the US had technology companies run by engineers and technical people rather than lawyers and accountants perhaps they would chose
      "innovation" over "litigation" as a business strategy.

      The sad truth is that even if someone at GM or Ford had the same idea in 1997 or earlier the bean counters and lawyers would have axed a hybrid in favour of more profitable SUVs..

      If you don't believe me look at who's on the board at GM, do a search for engineer in this article: (http://www.finchannel.com/news_flash/Oil_&_Auto/43476_New_Slate_of_GM_Board_of_Directors_Members_Selected_/)
      funny... almost no engineers...

      VS at Daimler: (http://www.daimler.com/dccom/0-5-7158-1-65184-1-0-0-0-0-0-8-7145-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.html)
      4 out of 5 on the management board have engineering backgrounds..

      Hmmm.

      Stealing US ideas... what ideas? The idea to sue everybody... maybe I should patent "patent troll law suits" and sue all the patent lawyers (after all it is a "business process" and a "unique" invention)...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tsotha (720379)

      The US has a first-to-invent standard instead of the first-to-file standard you see in some other countries. If you can show you invented something before the other guy did (which usually requires a fair amount of documentation), you can get a patent even after the invention is in general use. You can also invalidate existing patents for the same invention. Of course there are all sorts of legal caveats, but that's the gist of it. The fact that the patent application was filed in 2006 doesn't necessaril

    • The filing date is May 8, 2006. Really? This technology wasn't around before then?

      Oh, who cares. I hope they get the injunction. Then a million Prius owners will tell everybody who will listen (or may be confused for listening) just how awful the patent system has become.
       

  • The welfare of the people is definitely being promoted with this patent. I wonder if this no-name company is owned by Exxon?
    • by Artraze (600366)

      Blaming 'Big Oil' is fun and all, but come on. Hybridization generally cuts gas consumption by less than 50%, and that's only in their mid-sized sedan class. Trucks (big-rig and pickup), trains, planes, clunkers, etc. still burn lots of gas, I doubt that hybrids would make Exxon blink an eye.

      It you're really looking for some kind of conspiracy, the American auto makers would be the best place. This little company is trying to prevent the sale/import of Toyota's cars, rather than just collecting royalties

    • by Dunbal (464142)

      I wonder if this no-name company is owned by Exxon?

            No, I'm sure that big oil wants you all to drive hybrids. After all, the price of oil is going to continue going up anyway just through sheer demand for all the OTHER applications of oil. Why burn up all that oil quickly today in internal combustion engines, when you can be charged an arm and a leg for it in a couple decades or so?

  • So what, they patented the transmission? CV joints? Axles?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sharkb8 (723587)
      1. A hybrid vehicle, comprising: at least two pairs of wheels, each pair of wheels operable to receive power to propel said hybrid vehicle; a first alternating current (AC) electric motor, operable to provide power to a first pair of said at least two pairs of wheels to propel said hybrid vehicle; a second alternating current (AC) electric motor, operable to provide power to a second pair of said at least two pairs of wheels to propel said hybrid vehicle a third AC electric motor; an engine coupled to said
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Sponge Bath (413667)

      So what, they patented the transmission? CV joints? Axles?

      Paice LLC Lawyer: Umm... Sure, why not?

    • by Thagg (9904) <thadbeier@gmail.com> on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:28PM (#29686237) Journal

      They patented the transmission, exactly. The use of a planetary gearbox to sum the output of the gasoline and electric motors, or to have the gasoline motor drive the generator. I share the antipathy for software patents with most of the Slashdot crowd, but this is a classic hardware patent. Hardware patents have a long and important history, and are almost certainly a good thing.

      Curiously, GM's Volt doesn't violate this patent, as it is a so-called "series hybrid", in that the gas motor only drives the generator, and the wheels are only driven by the electric motor. The Ford Fusion and Escape hybrids, and the Nissan Altima hybrid use exactly the same system that Toyota does, licensed from Toyota.

      Toyota has made the system useful (in a way that the original patent isn't) by adding a second electric motor which assists in driving the wheels directly. This enables a "low gear", by having the gas motor run fast, driving the first motor/generator backwards to generate power, which drives the second electric motor. That is the decisive conceptual leap in the Synergy drive, and Toyota has of course patented that.

      Thad

      • If Toyota has added its own innovation, then this their invention, not the company that's suing. I thought that was one of the key points of a patent.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by tepples (727027)

          If Toyota has added its own innovation, then this their invention, not the company that's suing.

          It's possible for a single product to contain multiple inventions, such as one patented to Paice and one patented to Toyota.

  • I'm glad I have mine (though it's only a second-generation.)

  • This looks like stuff they had in Scientific American back in 1972. Even the microcontroller was anticipated. The only addition (and it's mostly a bullshit one) is "a two-speed transmission may further be provided, to further broaden the vehicle's load range". CVT transmissions weren't envisioned then.

    Sure enough, if you look at the list of cited patents, they go back to the early 70s. This is not new, and should not have received a separate patent as an "invention". There's zero inventing involved.

  • Import? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:31PM (#29686255)

    But, Toyota makes cars in the US...

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:32PM (#29686277) Homepage

    Patent Claim Could Block Import of Toyota's Hybrid Cars on 17:10 Thursday 08 October 2009

    Contrary to oft-repeated headlines, a patent-holder never wants to block a patent-using technology from the market. They just want to get paid for it. If, indeed, the patent is valid — and the size of the patent-holder is no indication either way — Toyota simply needs to pay for the technology...

    The article write-up seems like it is written by a Toyota-shill. If a Paice-shill were to write it, it could've been rephrased along the following lines:

    After over 3 years of trying to dodge its responsibility, Toyota may finally be forced by the US International Trade Commission to respect America's Intellectual Property laws and pay a small American firm for the valuable technology, that Toyota found so useful for its hybrid vehicles.

    • by Whorhay (1319089)

      I of course can't cite any examples because I don't know if one exists. But it is plausible for a patent holder to prevent their invention from making it to the market. This would only make sense in a case like consipracy nuts always pushed, that the oil companies bought out the patents for incredibly efficient ICE engines because it would hurt the value of their main product.

      Again, not saying it's ever happened but a situation like that isn't too hard to imagine.

    • by Zordak (123132) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:33PM (#29686905) Homepage Journal
      You're about 90% right, but you missed one thing. The ITC can't award any money to Paice; it can only award an import injunction. The value of the injunction is as leverage to get Toyota to pay up.
  • by taniwha (70410) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:38PM (#29686339) Homepage Journal
    reading the claims sounds much more like it describes diesel-electric trains than Toyota's dual transmission drive
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... org minus author> on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:49PM (#29686467)

    Interesting that a company located in Florida [paice.net] would choose to sue a Japanese company in the seemingly random [wikipedia.org] location of Marshall, Texas [wikipedia.org].

  • "way to apply force to a car's wheels from an electric motor or internal combustion engine"

    Isn't there plenty of prior art on this?

    BTW, the patent app is flawed. They specify a 2-speed transmission. My hybrid will NOT have a 2-speed transmission, I assure you. And it will have mechanical braking with an auxiliary regenerative system. Looks like i have a great chance at getting a patent on that, or some combination thereof.

    Joking aside, this is continuing evidence of our patent system being pretty well h

  • To infringe claim 1 it would seem that you need at least one electric motor driving one pair of wheels and a second electric motor driving a second pair of wheels. i.e. four wheel drive with two electric motors (plus a third electric motor coupled to the IC engine).

    Not sure (without hunting down that judgement) how given their extensive citing of Toyota products in their spec that they somehow convinced a court to award a win in 2005?

  • by GumphMaster (772693) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:38PM (#29686945)

    Given that the patent application was filed May 8, 2006 is seems that Toyota's hybrid easily predates (circa 1997) the patent.

    The patent claims start, "1. A hybrid vehicle, comprising: at least two pairs of wheels, each pair of wheels operable to receive power to propel said hybrid vehicle;..." No later claim seems to remove the requirement that power is deliverable to all pair of wheels. Does a Prius drive all four wheels?

  • That's Progress (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:47PM (#29687491) Homepage Journal

    Thank Vulcan for Paice, without whose invention we would never have hybrid or electric cars. Without the Patent Office creating their monopoly, which has never produced a car, people freely speaking about how to make electric and hybrid cars would be getting us off internal combustion. And that's bad for America.

3500 Calories = 1 Food Pound

Working...