Last month, ktMINE participated in Battlefin Virtual Discovery Days where our CEO, Michael Taylor, spoke on a panel regarding the Intellectual Property data and trends for autonomous driving. Throughout the panel discussion, Mike, and the other panelists highlighted companies such as Telsa, Uber, and Lyft as major competitors in the race to a totally autonomous vehicle. However, after Amazon’s June acquisition of Zoox for 1.2 Billion, it got us thinking – where will Amazon be in the next couple of years?
Zoox, an American autonomous vehicle company, was founded in 2014 with a mission to build a fit-for-purpose self-driving vehicle from the ground up. Now you might be thinking – why would a startup want to go head-to-head with companies such as Tesla, Lyft, and Uber in the autonomous vehicle space? Well, Zoox is actually further along than you might have thought. The company is test-driving autonomously in cities and on highways, making left turns, and rights on red. Zoox’s unique technology identifies and separates a pedestrian from a car, a car from a truck, and all the above from a stoplight making it easy for its vehicle to yield to pedestrians – while safely passing other vehicles.
Apparent from the ktMINE chart below, Zoox focused on its IP portfolio from the get-go, having applied for almost 20 patents in its second year of business. With a strong emphasis on the latest in automotive, robotics, and renewable energy technologies – it is hard to overlook Zoox as a competitor in the autonomous vehicle space.
Diving deeper into the company’s IP portfolio, you see that Zoox currently owns over 400 granted and applied for patents working to directly protect its zero-emission vehicle built specifically for autonomous use. As seen below, the CPC code G05D, the system for controlling or regulating non-electric variables, is the company’s most filed for CPC code with links to 15.2% of its patents. The second highest CPC code in its IP portfolio is B60W, the conjoint control of vehicle sub-units of different type or different function. These two CPC codes combined can be linked to over 25% of Zoox’s filed patents. This alone shows the company’s dedication to the software and AI needed to power its autonomous driving vehicle.
Zoox could not have done it alone though. Almost half of the patents that the company currently owns come from assignments. Since Zoox’s founding six years ago, it has received over 200 assigned patents solely from inventors. Extracted from ktMINE’s IP Solution, you can see below the large number of patents that have been assigned to Zoox in 2020 alone. It is clear that Zoox has leaned on its agreement strategy in order to strengthen its IP portfolio and compete with its powerhouse competitors. This also raises an important point, not lost Amazon (Exclusive: Amazon plans at least $100 million to keep Zoox talent after $1.3 billion deal), that they’ll need to retain this top talent to succeed.
Switching gears from patents and assignments let’s review the legal data on Zoox. For a company with over 400 patents, 200 agreements, and 60 trademarks there is not a single court case the company is involved in. It is common to see companies with large IP portfolios dealing with a number of court cases due to the technologies used. This proves Zoox’s laser focus on its vehicle and constructing it in a way that is completely their own.
While Zoox’s current IP portfolio does not compare to the major autonomous vehicles companies such as Tesla, Uber, and Lyft, you can’t forget that Zoox is now backed by Amazon who also has autonomous driving IP portfolio. It will be interesting to see in the coming months what happens in the news as well as Zoox’s changing IP portfolio as the company continues to build its fully autonomous vehicle ahead of its major competitors.