Patents: 120 years of protection for ideas
Historie | For 120 years thyssenkrupp inventors have enjoyed the assurance that their ideas will remain their intellectual property.
For 120 years thyssenkrupp inventors have enjoyed the assurance that their ideas will remain their intellectual property. In March 1895 the company Fried. Krupp, one of the predecessors of thyssenkrupp, set up its first patent department. Krupp was making an early contribution to the development of patent protection in 19th century Germany. 18 years previously the Imperial Patent Office had been founded as a national patent authority in Berlin.
thyssenkrupp inventions have long played a role in improving people’s lives. One example is the seamless railroad wheel, a revolutionary innovation in the 19th century that allowed trains to travel much faster than before. Another is stainless steel, developed in 1912. Its resistance to corrosion, acid and heat contributed to the growth of Germany’s chemical industry. What few people know is that without Krupp we wouldn’t have the diesel engine either. It was the result in 1897 of a joint development effort by Rudolf Diesel, Maschinenfabrik Augsburg and Fried. Krupp.
Patents protect innovations like these from imitators. If you patent an invention, you prevent others from using it and are able to benefit exclusively from it for a period. Today a patent usually lasts 20 years. Patents are needed because innovations cost a lot of time and money. If everyone was able to copy an invention immediately, this expense would not be worthwhile and innovations would stop. At the same time patents ensure transparency. They prevent duplication in research and development and highlight where innovations are still possible.
The patent department at Fried. Krupp was immediately in great demand: By 1896 the department had applied for 114 patents and by 1897, the third year of its existence, the number had more than doubled to 260. A second employee was hired, to be joined by a third in 1898. By 1902 seven people were working on ideas protection at Fried. Krupp.
Today the Intellectual Property Services unit – that’s what the patent department is called now – employs more than 40 people and has locations Germany, USA and China. The number of thyssenkrupp patents is almost 16,300 and rising. “In the last fiscal year 2013/2014 alone thyssenkrupp applied for nearly 400 new patents, which means that we are on the right track as technology group”, says Stephan Wolke, Head of Intellectual Property Services.
thyssenkrupp patents today include for example the Universal Dispatching Algorithm, a program for calculating the most efficient mode of operation for elevators, and camshaft modules, which save time and reduce operations in automobile production while cutting car fuel consumption and emissions. Steel, too, is continuously being further developed. Here, thyssenkrupp has patented high-strength materials that allow the production of lighter, more fuel-efficient cars.