United States: Talking Cars

Last Updated: September 25 2019
Article by W. Todd Baker

Todd Baker wrote an article for Intellectual Property Magazine entitled "Talking Cars," which will be featured in their October issue.

In many cases, a successful forecast of a technological trend can be accomplished by just following the patents. However, for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology, a review of US patent applications published since 2010 reveals a number of strategic technology choices being made in the Autonomous Vehicle (AV) space, but no clear view of a singular adopted communication standard. Be that as it may, what is clear is that two competing technologies, Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) – the 802.11p Wi-Fi based standard – and the cellular long-term evolution (LTE)-based Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology, being developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), are the industry leaders. Many innovators in this space are picking or switching sides. Others appear unwilling to commit to either technology until a market/government decision has been made, pursuing patent coverage sufficiently generic to read on both technologies.

By way of background, C-V2X encompasses communications between an AV and another AV, AV and roadside infrastructure (Vehicle-to-Infrastructure or V2I), and AV and computer networks (Vehicle-to-Network). As we transition from today's technology (eg,radar-based cruise-control systems and lane keeping technology) to fully autonomous vehicles, the development of V2V technology is at the forefront of C-V2X development. Similarly, DSRC enables short-rangeV2V communications using the 802.11p standard.

Since company A's vehicles will have to communicate with company B's vehicles, the adoption of a single technical standard is nearly inevitable, but, until then, DSRC and cellular-based V2V are likely to be developed concurrently. The major players developing this nascent technology are not only automobile manufacturers (eg, Ford, General Motors, and Toyota) and their suppliers, but also include wireless technology providers (eg, Huawei and LG Electronics) and chipmakers/designers such as Intel and Qualcomm.

It is unclear how the interests of these entities will align and the inevitable adoption of a single solution will play out. For example, in 2016, Toyota became the first automaker globally to introduce automobiles equipped with V2V technology. Those vehicles used DSRC and were only for sale in Japan. Along those same lines, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been working with the automotive industry and academic institutions for more than a decade to advance V2V communications using DSRC. In contrast, China plans to install wireless communication solutions (C-V2X) on 90% of the country's highways by 2020, according to a strategic plan released by China's National Development and Reform Commission.

A search of the USPTO's patent publication database1 reveals moderate patent activity in the V2V communication space prior to 2015 (assuming that most applications publish 18 months after filing – see Figure 1). This patent survey will determine whether automaker filings are consistent with their public proclamations adopting DSRC or C-V2X, and will also review filing activities of wireless-device makers and chip designers. Lastly, since many of these applications are being written for the purpose of reading on a standard, patent application preparation and prosecution considerations are discussed.

3GPP is a collaboration agreement bridging a number of telecommunication standards bodies. LTE is developed under the 3GPP and enables vehicles to communicate their geospatial coordinates to each other directly when in low-or no-connectivity range up to 100 meters. Also, the vehicles can communicate indirectly through the cellular LTE network when connected at a range of up to 500 meters. Both the direct and indirect options help avoid collisions as the vehicles are aware of each other by using broadcast short messages.2

The alternative standard, 802.11p (developed by IEEE), relies upon DSRC, a US Department of Transportation-based project (referred to as ITS-G5 in Europe). DSRC allows vehicles to broadcast and receive omnidirectional messages (up to 10 times per second), creating a 360-degree "awareness" of other vehicles in proximity. Vehicles equipped with appropriate software can use the messages from surrounding vehicles to determine potential crash threats as they develop.3

Automobile manufacturers

Ford was an early adopter of V2V technology for collision avoidance purposes and is firmly entrenched in the C-V2X camp. Although many of its filings have been C-V2X specific, Ford has filed numerous applications which are neither limited to C-V2X or DSRC. For example, US patent 10,275,043 is directed to a generic communication module for V2V communication including a controller configured to determine (eg, via V2V communication) a vehicle type or classification of the lead vehicle. If the lead vehicle is not a semi-truck, an emergency vehicle and/or other vehicle that is required to travel at a slower speed, the controller sends an alert to the lead vehicle (eg, via V2V communication) indicating that it is traveling slowly.

Consistent with its public adoption of the DSRC standard, Toyota has consistently filed applications directed to its implementation. One of Toyota's representative patents, US patent 10,013,877, is directed to a system for providing a notification of a traffic obstruction based on wireless vehicle data included in a DSRC message. Another top filer,GM, has obtained patents for nine of the 11 applications it has filed in this space. However, GM has published only two applications since 2015 for this niche technology and the majority of those applications appear to be directed to broadcast authentication schemes and message authentication generically applicable to both DSRC and cellular-based V2V communications.

Wireless (handheld) device manufacturers

According to the search results, LG and Huawei are top filers. Not surprisingly, both companies are seeking protection for cellular-based,V2V-based technologies. LG continues a longstanding relationship with Qualcomm one of the largest manufacturers of wireless-baseband chipsets. Meanwhile, in Europe, Bosch, Huawei, and Vodafone Germany have successfully tested the usage of C-V2X.4 Huawei has also teamed up with Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ericsson, Intel and Nokia to create the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA).


Qualcomm, a leading filer of all companies revealed in the search, is squarely in the C-V2X camp with LG Electronics. Intel's membership of the 5GAA indicates the same choice. However, many of Qualcomm's earlier filings (eg, USP 9,584,954) were directed to DSRC technology. It is unclear why Qualcomm recast its patent strategy and committed to the C-V2X standard. In any event, with the Trump administration's failure to mandate the adoption of DSRC, C-V2X appears to be gaining momentum and other companies like Qualcomm may change course accordingly.

As the sector advances, innovators in the V2V communication industry will follow the government's lead with patent protection in tow. Decisions will be made whether to pursue claims which read on the adopted standard, and further development of that standard will follow. An inherent aspect of that development will be drafting and updating a technical standard specification such as 3GPP which will require participating companies to serve on work groups where technical concepts are shared and developed. With Release 16 of the 3GPP specification expected in December 2019, an uptick in V2Xrelated patent filings by the participating companies, among others, can be anticipated. Companies which especially value patent procurement will likely stake out their IP boundaries by filing patent disclosures prior to attending work group meetings or no later than publication of the technical standard specification and related information.

The work group meetings are collaborative by nature and thus the potential for the development of joint IP is expected. Because of the collaborative nature of the work, participating companies should have an understanding of current derivation jurisprudence and be knowledgeable of its deficiencies. Under the America Invents Act, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has required complete identity between the subject matter recited in a patent claim of an accused party and the substance of communication provided to the accused by the party charging derivation.5 Thus, even if the difference between the claimed subject matter and the substance of the communication is obvious, derivation cannot be proven. Accordingly, absent a joint research agreement (JRA) which provides contractual protections from derivation, companies should be prudent and disclose their innovation (eg, at the USPTO) as early as possible or refrain from participating in collaborative environments. In addition to the derivation safeguards, JRAs can be used under 35 USC §102(c) to remove references prepared by collaborative partners as prior art available to be applied during examination.

If a patent includes at least one claim defining subject matter which must be used to comply with a standard, then the patent is a standard-essential patent (SEP). After a technical standard is adopted, patents with claims reading on the standard can be leveraged in a variety of ways. If the patent owner is a member of a standard, it will often be required to disclose and grant licences to their patents and pending patent applications presenting claims that read on the standard. Nonmembers of the standard obtaining relevant patent coverage may demand or sue for royalties from companies that adopt the standard. In either case, patent prosecutors tasked with writing claims reading on standards are often challenged to thread a very fine needle bound primarily by the scope of the standard and prior-art public disclosures related to the standard itself.


1. The search string used was abst/("v2v" or "dsrc"). A handful of returns were removed for being unrelated to vehicle communications leaving 225 published applications filed since 2010.

2. https://connect.altran.com/2017/03/v2v-lte-technology-for-vehicular-safety/

3. https://www.nhtsa.gov/technology-innovation/vehicle-vehiclecommunication

4. https://www.electronicdesign.com/automotive/bosch-vodafone-andhuawei-successfully-test-c-v2x

5. Andersen Corp v GED Integrated Solutions, Inc, DER2017-00007 (20 March 2019).

Figure 1: US Patent activity over the past 10 years (source: USPTO)

Table 1: Chipmakers filings (source: USPTO)

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions