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Tesla got patents?

Have they filed any patents for any of its design like the underbelly battery pack positioning, drive train, the large center console, etc? After watching the ongoing Samsung/Apple epic patent battle over what seems like trivial matters, it seems like a good idea for Tesla to patent everything that is unique in Model S. I was reading that the Honda Fit Electric already has its battery pack positioned just like in Model S, for super low CG.

Coda as well!

I don't think ideas can be patented, only devices. Battery pack positioning is idea, battery pack connections would be device.

Timo: Checkout the kind of things Apple and Samsung are fighting about. Most of them are ideas and some are silly things like the shape of the icons, etc.

The low CG achieved by the ingenious battery positioning is what makes the Model S ride seem so awesome (no body roll, excellent road grip, etc). I think its a key idea that should be patented, if not already. Otherwise there are no barriers for entry.

You can argue that the skateboard design with no car body on top of it is the device otherwise? Very real, just slap an accelerator, steering wheel and lawn chair to that and you have the most awesome go cart of all time!

The Nissan Leaf also has the battery mounted under the car, like so:

Obviously not nearly as elegantly integrated as the Model S but the basic principle is the same and the Leaf came to the market 2 years earlier.

pvenkate, to use Steve Jobs' words: "and, boy, have we patented it!" You can rest assured that Tesla has patented as much as they could while developing the Model S. They hold hundreds of patents, and have many more pending, at least that's what Elon says when asked in an interview.

And this covers the batteries in the base specifically:

http://www.faqs.org/patents/app/20120160583

In the 10-Q financials, the final sections, "ITEM 3. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK" have extensive discussion, mostly in general formal accounting terminology, about patent risks.

Challenges, varying jurisdictions, etc. are all mentioned.

IMO, the collaborative approach TM is taking, essentially trying to make it easier and more economical to license and contract with them rather than either break a patent or duplicate its facilities and research, is likely to pay off. That's the bet it's making, in any case.

hmm... I stand corrected, apparently you can patent ideas. However when "idea" is obvious enough that anybody can "invent" it it should not be patentable. Should I patent wheel? I just invented it (about zillionth time).

For "flat touchscreen with rounded edges" Apple patent, that should not exist at all. Anybody who tries to make touchscreen-only mobile phone ends up having near-exactly same design: flat, slim, rounded edges, about palm-sized but narrower.

Same applies to Tesla design for major scale: battery in middle under the floor (creates low point of gravity and centers the mass creating better handling), motor between wheels (takes least space there). This is a design that cannot be "intellectual property" because anybody thinking about it ends up more or less same conclusion.

I stand corrected, apparently you can patent ideas. (Timo)

Depends on legislation. There are some substantial differences between what can or cannot patented in Europe vs. USA.

This is a design that cannot be "intellectual property" because anybody thinking about it ends up more or less same conclusion. (Timo)

It is extremely hard to draw the line there because after the fact, the best ideas look simple and obvious and yet no one has had that idea before.

Authors run into this problem. Where does a plot idea end and a novel(!) thought begin? There are always lawsuits over people stealing plot outlines, yet how many new story structures are there? Car design seems a bit more straight-forward, yet it still seems murky.

There's specific wording relating to "prior art" etc. which has to be satisfied. This leads to all sorts of peculiar wording in the patents themselves, too. Sometimes stuff gets thru due to the sheer ignorance of the patent office.

A big controversy is patented genes. Existing genes, discovered and replicated. Theoretically, many of your genes are the property of biomed companies right now.

At least they'll expire in 17 yrs or so. But if you replicate yourself or reproduce before then ...

>;-P

Keep in mind that the theoretical purpose of patents is to make ideas and devices widely available (after a minimal reasonable delay) by making the patent sufficiently specific that anyone "skilled in the (relevant) art" can reproduce it. Part of the reason for requiring submission of actual prototypes.

Those wanting to truly remain exclusive for as long as possible often thus don't patent, just rely on secrecy. Reverse engineering is their enemy.

Often, it's just "time" for an invention. The car, phone, radio, etc. were multiply invented. Bell, Marconi, etc. just won "footraces" to the patent office.

Tesla, not Marconi.

Sorry to bring up an old thread but was going through some of the Tesla patent applications and came across this:

http://www.faqs.org/patents/imgfull/20120041627_01

Looks like they are planning on using a metal(lithium?)-air battery paired with a standard lithium ion battery.

I guess the lithium-air battery is much lighter (much lower kg/kWh ratio...only problem is that you can't draw power (discharge) as fast from a lithium-air battery as you can a lithium-ion battery.

So are they planning on using the lithium-ion battery for large draw situations (acceleration, passing, etc) and the lithium-air for more steady (maintain your speed - highway driving)...all depends on the rate of draw needed for certain applications really...of course I have no idea, but Tesla will have compiled A LOT of data regarding draw rates on the Roadster and Model S.

Guess the idea would be to store most of the energy in the lighter lithium-air battery and have enough in the lithium-ion battery to handle the large draw situations.

Hmmm...just blew my own mind but...maybe the lithium-ion battery does ALL the actual discharge work but is constantly being trickle charged by the lithium-air battery?

Can batteries be charged and discharged at the same time? I guess so because I am using my cellphone right now as it is plugged into the charger.

Is this old news??? Haven't heard this anywhere as of yet. Seems pretty revolutionary to me.

Looks like JB Straubel is on the patent.

Hope somebody can comment on this!!!

Years down the road. Lithium air is not out of the lab, so far as I know, let alone automotive grade. I'd say check back in five years.

@teddyg;
capacitors are used in some applications that way, with almost instant response times, very high charge/discharge rates. Buffer for fast charge/discharge situations.

I guess you could still use them; layers with the high power density ones on the "outer" layer, energy densest ones on the innermost.

Companies file all sorts of patent applications they never expect to use. They do it defensively. I wouldn't hold my breath on this one.

From what I read, Elon studied super caps in college with an eye toward using them to power cars. So far, caps don't have the energy density to provide the required range. If we don't find a single technology with both high energy density and high power density, we will probably end up with a high energy density battery driving super caps, which will drive the motor. This is advantageous because regen can go directly into the caps, which can charge and discharge millions of times without being degraded like batteries.

EcLectric;
I think capacitors would help mainly with surges. Any caps big enough to accept much regen would be very bulky.

Not so sure JBunn...the book I am reading says that Lithium Air in terms of charging is ready to go...they are just struggling with the discharge rates...if Tesla uses a lithium air the way they have put in the patent then they may not be as far off as you think in terms of getting this into a car. Guess we will see.
just surprised nobody has discussed this before.

We have. Charge per kg. isn't the issue; it's SIZE. Not many kg. per m^2. You, 1 passenger, and your 85kWh lithium air battery fill your Model S ...

??? From what I read Lithium air has best kWh/kg ratio that can ever be hoped for in any battery...i know IBM has been working flat out on lithium air for at least 5 years...you would think Tesla might be testing some of thus stuff by now.

Brian H noted that problem is not specific energy (Wh/kg) but energy density (Wh/L). To contain enough energy to be useful that battery needs to be BIG. It's still light, but it takes a lot more space than current batteries. Power density is another problem, so there are two problems to solve.

You're not following. Kg is mass. VOLUME is what I'm referring to. Air takes up a lot of SPACE. Lithium-air batteries are light, but BIG. Bigger than cars can accommodate.

Yeah teddyg, if we use Lithium air, we would have to carry a giant bag of air around with us to feed the battery! Too bad we don't live on a planet that is covered with air. Hey, wait a minute...

The air problem is in the airspace inside the batteries. Doh.

@EcLectric - Unfortunately, it is true: we do need to carry a bag of air, it is the air inside the batteries that is in direct contact with the cathode. That makes the Li-air batteries both lightweight and bulky. Then we need to move the used air out, and move fresh air in. Like in an ICE: air filters, compressors, air hoses...

But it is promising. IBM estimates production will start between 2020 and 2030... lots of things may change in the meantime...

And - bummer - will not be able to drive a Model S on Mars...


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