Selling or Licensing an Automotive Patent

Automotive Patent

With the energy crisis and the worldwide push to “go green”, innovation in the automotive sector is at an all time high. This puts automotive patent holders in a prime position to sell or license their patent. However, it would behoove you to do some research on how automotive patents are typically capitalized on, as well as who would be most likely to buy or license said patents.

Most of the action in the automotive industry takes place in Michigan, specifically Detroit, or “Motown.” A recent article called “Auto Industry Fueling Growth in Michigan’s Patent Applications” describes the recent surge in auto innovation there:

“The auto industry may be bleeding money throughout Michigan, but it is fueling a rise in innovation in the state, federal data on patent activity shows.

The state saw a 20 percent rise in the numbers of patents granted between 2000 and 2006, the years for which the most recent data is available, compared with the seven-year 1993-1999 period, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.”


However, a number of auto leaders do business internationally as well. Wikipedia offers a handy chart that breaks down, by volume, the largest auto makers and their divisions and subsidiary companies. The table is based on the most recent OICA data.


General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler are the largest players in the United States market, in that order. Under the GM flag are brands like Buick, Cadillac, Hummer, Pontiac, Saturn, and Saab. Ford encompasses Lincoln, Mercury, and Volvo, while Chrysler markets the Dodge and Jeep line of trucks and SUVs. The divisions of each auto maker should inform your decision on who to contact about selling your patent.

If your patent pertains to low-mid range sedans or gigantic SUVs, you might look to score a meeting with someone from GM. If your patent applies to luxury models like the Lincoln Towncar, a call to Ford might be best. And if your invention would be best utilized in a heavy-lifting work vehicle like a Dodge Ram or Jeep Cherokee, Chrysler is probably the ideal networking target. Of course, there are several other auto makers worth considering who operate outside of the U.S., but it often helps to start closer to home.

It is also worth noting that many automakers own stock in and have business partnerships with other automakers. This means that even if you fail to sell or license your patent to one automaker, they might be able to put you in touch with one that would be more amenable to your proposal. Here is a quick reference of ownership overlap within the automotive industry.

However, not every automotive patent holder should necessarily target auto makers. Instead, some patents are probably more attractive to auto dealers, of which there are tens of thousands across the United States. If you are unsure of which auto dealer to contact or how to get in touch with them, the National Automobile Dealer Association is a good place to start. They are an automotive industry trade group that represents some 20,000 dealerships across the U.S. and boasts some 43,000 worldwide franchises. They also develop comprehensive research data on the auto industry, which might be of use to you in putting your pitch together.

You can contact the NADA by phone, e-mail, or snail mail.

National Automobile Dealers Association
8400 Westpark Drive
McLean, Virginia 22102
(703) 821-7000 or (800) 252-6232

Of course, you will want to consult a patent attorney before diving headlong into negotiations. Furthermore, this attorney should be one with experience and success in the auto sector. One proven winner in this field is Quinn Law Group, PLLC. “Auto Industry Fueling Growth…” discusses the track record and auto industry connections Quinn has at its disposal:

Principal Christopher Quinn said patent applications in areas such as hybrid technology, vehicle safety and electronics are helping drive annual revenue increases of 20 percent or more. The 19-member firm works with customers including General Motors Corp. and suppliers, as well as with out-of-state companies, many with Michigan offices, whose patents wouldn’t necessarily show up in USPTO data, he said.

Quinn can be contacted at the following web URL:

All in all, your quest to sell or license an auto patent should begin with a careful matching of your patent to the right auto maker, and end with the assistance of a proven attorney in the field.

Eric Corl is the President of Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company that owns and operates The Online Marketplace for Intellectual Property.  The site gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email him at

18 Responses to “Selling or Licensing an Automotive Patent”

  1. John D. Watts, P.E. Says:

    I have been issued over 60 patents assigned to employers, some of which sold in the $billions. I now have some of my own that i would like to license. Do you have a list of your services and the fees therefor? If so, please e-mail a copy to me.

  2. Chester White Says:

    Greetings. I am have several products that are patent-pending. The profuse amount of credible information at your site is reassuring. Please let me know how best I may present my provisional patents for either sale or licensing in a “secure” manner. After having experienced too many questionable behaviors from “interested parties,” I’ve become paranoid. I guess one may call this, “PPS” (Patent Pileup Syndrome). Going to one interested party with several products for capital investments is counterproductive due to the believability factor.

    Two of my products my products address potable water conservation. One of these includes “Greywater production” for agricultural irrigation. One is applicable for in-home private use; the other is specific for Green (office) Building new construction. Other than these, I have an electric motor, (no gas, solar, or rechargeable batteries) that is for automobiles, (cars, trucks, buses, and watercraft) a personal safety mechanism, and a computer peripheral.

    My question to you is: How best should I proceed with my products? They are duly written up as Provisionals and two Regulars, with CAD illustrations done by me. Other than simply listing the products, is there something else I should do with respect to promoting the products? I am open to both licensing and sale, in addition to any interest in partnering.

    Than You for your response

  3. Dennis Stilwell Says:

    eric i have great idea for any of the auto companies. I perfer gm how ever this can work on like the carrol shelby mustang but could also be standard on cheap cars it will give people more for their money. It could even stop car jacking. i am sure all the real costly cars would want this it could even be a add on to older cars. I know that great Idea only happen once in a life time. I know this will work. I an looking forward to hearing from you. thanks dennis please email at or call1-828-7273 after 5

  4. John Rafal Says:

    I want to sell my automotive idea that is patend-pending registered in Poland under no. “P 382879″.
    More info about this idea under .
    Anybody who can help me selling this patend, please email me:
    Thank You

  5. Farries Says:

    I have an idea that sure to become standardized in the luxury cars of the near future. I dont have a model or working replica but its simple ,sure to work,and cheap to produce. I need help putting this into motion. I have not revealed it to companies because of fear of it being mishandled.What are the securest ways to presenting my idea? please email me :


  6. Yvonne Says:

    I have an idea for a safety device that would benefit the public in general and any car mfg. I believe it would help with ins. costs as do seat belts, anti-lock brakes, burglar alarms, etc. Do you have any advice for me? I have contacted Business Development people and the patent office for a pre-patent document. I also have a small mfg company in mind.
    Thanks for any help

  7. Barbara Robertson Says:

    I have great idea, that would be very convenient and nice to have for the car.

  8. Robert Moore Says:

    I have an automotive safety idea for every vehicle on the road, this idea needs to be brought to light as soon as possible. I believe it will be very inexpensive to do in the manufacturing process. I dont know how to market this or make sure i get royalties.
    Thanks, Bob

  9. Linda Rich Says:

    I have several automotive ideas for every vehicle in the future and for those already on the market or on the road. Need to know where to go for advise > HELP

  10. Car News Says:

    Auto patents are a huge part of the industry. A lot of companies have in-house attorneys since it’s cheaerp to have them at the automaker FT than pay ridiculous lawyer fees. Can I patent an idea for getting rid of lawyers? :)

  11. Thomas Says:

    I have a great ideas for luxury car . And it work very well . But I don’t know how to sell my ideas to the auto company. Please help me and show me how am i going to do it . Thank you


    I am interested in finding a patent infringement attorney who would be interested in taking on a case of GM and Chrysler who we believe both used my father’s patents for the automotive gear shift which he began to design in 1925 and had various patents up to 1935. He presented his patents before the review committee at GM and at CHrysler in Detroit, leaving his patents with them. according to his letters, was requested by them. We believe both GM and Chrysler infringed on my father’s patents, as is evidenced by subsequent patents then put out by both GM and CHrysler, which appear to be the same as my father’s, and which an automotive expert could determine. We have a huge file of letters, drawings and documentation to and from my father to both companies going back to 1925 through 1939. The original engine with the automatic gear shift is on display at the Automotive Museum in Michigan. Is there any patent attorney wiling to take on this case, in spite of the years as it is the concept of the design that we feel was infringed upon by these two huge auto companies. It would be a challenge, but another case of the average man who got taken by two of the three big top auto makers. Any suggestions? Thank you. M.Morehardt

  13. Tim Mead Says:

    I have an idea that would make every car safer for children, it could reduce child deaths due to autos , there is a proactive and reactive mode. Both modes could be built into the same unit. This could be built into the car when built or put in aftermarket. I estimate that it would cost less than $200 to build. and that when the general public learns of this product that they will demand it to be in every car on the road.

  14. Corrado Olivero Says:

    Dear friends,

    I’m an Italian owner of an absolutely innovative world patent for a new kind of brake pad focused to the electric cars.
    The basis of my patent is the weight (-50%) the safety (no glue is present between friction material and backing plate) and a hybrid metal-plastic backing plate
    Due to the fact that this brake pad has already overtaked the standard homologations for the actual ,not electric, cars and the road test I think, seen the lower task of the brakes in the electric cars, it can be immediatly adopted with a lot of advantages
    But I don’t know how is the right and shorter way to present my patent to the electric car manufacturers
    (Nissan,Chevrolet,Toyota,Mitsubishi,Renault,Tesla,Ford,Chery,Byd,Jac,BMW,Mercedes and others),
    For sure the first approach will be by mail (where I can send them the full brochure within tests and patents’chart) but I would avoid to contact uncorrect persons who cannot decide and get me very very long the way loosing a lot of time
    Can you help me in this way

    Sincere regards

    Corrado Olivero

  15. Neil Says:

    I have a very simple idea that I think should be mandatory on all US vehicles produced in the near future. It is something that I feel would be widely appreciated, save many lives and could be implemented almost immediately after being mandated. The problem is that I do not know how to take the mental concept through to patenting, marketing, law and implementation. The government would be the intity that I would need to market to. Any help would be great. Thank you.

  16. Akash Khurana Says:

    I have a skech of car design patented by kolkata trademark company under patent number 225687. It is a very innovative design of sedan. I wish to sale this design. Any help would be great. Thank you.

  17. Sivasankar Aakisetti Says:

    Hi all,I have an innovative automobile ideas and I am planning of fuelles vehicle,if any one required pls contact.

  18. BERC Says:

    I have a great idea I would want to share with all vehicle manufacturers,an idea to.,improve car security,protect car owners and bring an end to car trafficking I hope you give me the chance to lay this idea down for you.From Africa Ghana

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