April 4, 2011 / 6:10 PM / 8 years ago

GM Ousts Honda Atop Cleantech Patent List

GM (NYSE: GM) registered the most cleantech patents in 2010, knocking Honda (NYSE: HMC) from the top of the list for the first time since 2002.

2010 was a record year for cleantech patents in the US, according to the index published by law firm Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C.

The Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI) reports 1,181 patents for the year, up by more than 170 percent over 2009 levels. That marks the largest year-to-year jump since the index began, and more than three times the difference between 2008 to 2009 figures.

The CEPGI tracks the granting of U.S. patents for the following sub-components: Solar, Wind, Hybrid/electric vehicles, Fuel Cells, Hydroelectric, Tidal/wave, Geothermal, Biomass/biofuels and other renewable energy.

Patents in fuel cells and wind power were each up more than 57 percent over 2009. Solar patents were up 134 percent while hybrid/electric vehicles were up 60 percent.

Tidal energy and biomass/biofuel energy patents were up 28 percent and 41 percent, respectively, at fourteen patents each. Hydroelectric patents were up 16 patents, an increase of more than 500 percent.

Geothermal patents was the only sector that decreased at five less patents than 2009—a 50 percent decrease. All of the technology sectors, except geothermal, were at all time highs in 2010, surpassing all previous records.

Fuel cell patents continued to dwarf the other components of the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index in 2010 with 996 patents, almost three times the number of patents of nearest competitor solar (363).

Patent Holders

Over seven hundred entities contributed to the total of clean energy patents in 2010. The top clean energy patent holders in 2010 were dominated by automobile companies, which occupied six of the top ten spots.

GM took the annual clean energy patent crown from last year’s winner Honda. Samsung jumped to second place, largely on the strength of its fuel cell patents, overtaking Honda and Toyota (NYSE: TM) relative to 2009.

Toyota increased its annual total by 20 patents to get fourth place while GE increased by thirty to place in fifth. Nissan (6th) (NSANY.PK), Ford (8th) (NYSE:F) and Hyundai (9th) (HYMTF.PK) rounded out the automobile competitors for 2010.

GE (NYSE: GE) placed fifth predominantly on the strength of its wind patents which was over twice the number of patents of its nearest wind patent competitor in 2010, Vestas Wind Systems (VWS.CO).

Panasonic (NYSE: PC) came in 7th in 2010 to tie its 2009 showing on the strength of its fuel cell patents and exceeded the 29 patents from 2009 by five patents, after having had only 6 in all the prior years.

Hitachi (NYSE: HIT) rounded out the top 10 with 23 patents which were predominantly in the fuel cell and wind areas. Canon (NYSE: CAJ), far and away the solar photovoltaic patent leader since 2002, missed the top ten with a 12th place showing in 2010 at 15 patents.

Tying for 11th place in 2010 were Canon, Toshiba (TOSBF.PK) and Bloom Energy with 12 patents.

Photo by Ramunas Geciauskas/flickr/Creative Commons

Reprinted with permission from Sustainable Business

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