Japanese companies, which were outrun by Korea in the secondary battery industry, emerged as strong global leaders in the fuel cell industry. Fuel cells are expected to be a next-generation energy source. While Korea makes its way ahead of Japan in the small secondary batteries used for cellphones and mid-to-large size secondary batteries used for electronic vehicles, Japan outran Korea in the industry of fuel cells.
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On August 14, Patent Result of Japan analyzed the competitiveness of fuel cell patents registered in the US and found Japanese automobile and electronic industries to be ranked 2nd to 4th. Fuel cells are expected to replace secondary batteries as the next energy source that converts chemical energy directly to electrical energy.
Patent Result Company is a global business that analyzes patent amounts and quality. About 15,939 cases of fuel-cell-related patents registered publicly in the US Patent Office since 1980 to May 2013 were included in this analysis.
Conclusively, US-based GM took first place. GM owns 892 patents and showed great quality in its patents. In fact, GM is known to be the most active in fuel cell research and development (R&D).
Japan wiped out 2nd through 4th places. Toyota Automobile came in at 2nd place, Honda in 3rd, and Panasonic in 4th. Especially, Toyota in 2nd place is showing great potential in the fuel cell industry by being very close to catching up with GM in 1st. It continues to actively register patents, slowly dominating the market not only with Japanese automobile companies but also electronics companies.
Just one company from Korea, Samsung SDI, ranked 5th place. Samsung SDI recently began to register fuel cell-related patents in the US Patent Office. One could say that Samsung is trying to outrun Japan in fuel cells by taking over patents through large scale R&D in order to prevent Japanese automobile and electronic companies from succeeding in the market.
A Samsung SDI associate said, “Korea is ahead of Japan in the small and mid-to-large size secondary battery industry,” and added, “Korea is also researching the fuel cell industry, but Japan seems to be ahead of the industry.”
Another industry representative said, “It is noteworthy that not only electronic companies but also automobile companies are trying to register fuel cell patents in Japan,” and added, “It is hard to determine when the fuel cell market will be fully established, but Japan is already fiercely developing and dominating the technologies related to it.”