Judging by the number of U.S. patents filed from 2000-2004, Japanese auto makers and suppliers are the industry’s leading innovators. An analysis of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office data for internal combustion engine patents, for example, shows top Japanese automotive companies with twice as many patents as the top American and German companies. “The Japanese have always been very productive of patents,” says Garyl Rhys, director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff ...

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