17 March 2004

Ford has been forced to sign a licensing agreement with Toyota to use know-how from the Japanese company’s pioneering Prius hybrid.

Although Ford’s new Escape hybrid SUV won’t take any actual technology from Toyota, Ford has paid up on 20 of the 350 patents logged by its rival because its own ideas were too close to Toyota’s.

‘Although we didn’t use their system or technology, we have to license some ideas,’ said a Ford spokesman. He predicted that Ford will patent 100 ideas of its own when the Escape is launched this summer. The Ford deal follows Toyota’s 2002 agreement with Nissan to supply 30,000 hybrid systems and tech co-operation.

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