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Patent Illustration Renderings Show Possible Next Generation Toyota Tacoma

by | Feb 23, 2023 | Basics of Intellectual Property

A new design for what may be the next Toyota Tacoma has surfaced recently from the springboard of a patent filed in Brazil. Some clever person on the internet created patent illustration renderings from the filing’s detailed drawings (as many good patent applications must contain). 

The renderings were initially proliferated by the website Motor1, and they have spread throughout auto enthusiast news sites.

Nuts & Bolts, Grilles & Vents

Calling the images “next generation Toyota Tacoma” is a bit of an extrapolation. For one, the Tacoma isn’t sold in Brazil. As Autoblog notes, the most popular, worldwide Toyota-made small truck is the Hilux, banned in North America. So the Brazilian patent is likely for that model of truck. Auto news sites are assuming that Toyota will repurpose the Hilux design to closely resemble the Tacoma.

For those interested in the nuts and bolts of observable differences, the patent illustration renderings show the exterior of the truck:

  • Teardrop-shaped vents under the headlights
  • Character lines on the body of the truck
  • Stylized wheel arches
  • Rooftop spoiler

Speculation has also arisen from the truck’s grille in the rendering, which appears to be more traditional. This hints toward a hybrid or gas model rather than an EV, which would look different if it hosted a battery.

Does the Patent Illustration Renderings “Leak” Hurt Toyota?

You may be wondering if Toyota considers this news detrimental to its product development. But that cuts into the difference between trade secrets and patents.

If Toyota knew that it wanted to keep the Hilux/Tacoma design under wraps, it would have kept that idea close. It would have become a trade secret – known by few, information that could make or break a company.

But this isn’t a leak, because patents are public. The patent system was modeled, in part, to cultivate innovation. And this situation illustrates why and how. 

Limited Monopoly

Because Toyota filed a patent, it must have known that it was ready for the world (or, at least, part of the world) to see its design. 

The buzz that came after the patent illustration renderings emerged fits exactly what patent offices (and likely Toyota) want. The idea is for inventive knowledge to spread and transform. This philosophy acknowledges that ideas need other ideas to build and improve. 

But why would Toyota be okay with this? Aren’t they afraid of copiers? Not exactly, because the patent provides Toyota with a “limited monopoly.” This means that Toyota can pursue legal action against anybody who seems to be infringing on a patented truck design.

Thus, after immense investment in research and development, Toyota feels safe to share its ideas, knowing that nobody can, for example, create and sell the same, or similar, truck design. But what other automakers and designers can do is digest the inspiration – and come up with their own unique and novel version of their next generation.

Patents and Innovation

I’ll close with with words from a 1997 research paper (quoted by another interesting patent read from Forbes) touting this particular merit of the patent system:

“…Imagine a world in which there was no patent system to guarantee inventors property rights to their discoveries. In such a world, inventors would have every incentive to be secretive and guard jealously their discoveries from competitors…

By contrast, in a world where property rights in invention were protected… Inventors would now feel free to promote their discoveries as widely as possible so as to maximize returns…. The protections offered by the patent system would thus be an important stimulus to the exchange of technological information… It is likely that the cross-fertilization that resulted from these information flows would be a potent stimulus to technological change.”

If your company has hesitated in filing a patent application for an idea or invention, remember that a limited monopoly empowers you to receive a return on the investment of your research and development. In other words: If you spend $50K developing a product that’s expected to generate $50-100K in revenue, why not spend $10K to obtain a limited monopoly on that product for 20 years?

On top of that, your application helps grow other inventors, technological progress, and society as it adopts improved technology. And if this moves you to finally file a patent, do it the wise way – with professional legal help.


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