12 Jan’24

Lynn’s Picks: Foresight’s Patent of the Week – US Patent Application 17/852,089: Spare Wheel Containers for a Vehicle (Rivian Automotive)

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Disclaimer: This blog was created for informational purposes only and does not represent Foresight’s or the author’s opinion regarding the validity, quality or enforceability of any particular patent covered in this blog.  Foresight is not a law firm and no portion of the information contained in this blog was intended to serve as legal opinion.

In this week’s blog, we are kicking off the Lynn’s Picks blog series by highlighting a recent filing by Rivian Automotive carrying the US patent application number 17/852,089 titled: “Spare Wheel Containers for a Vehicle”. Rivian Automotive, Inc. designs, develops, manufactures, and sells electric vehicles and accessories. The company offers several models of electric pickup trucks and sports utility vehicles. It provides Rivian Commercial Vehicle platform for Electric Delivery Van with collaboration with Amazon.com, Inc. The company sells its products directly to customers in the consumer and commercial markets. Rivian Automotive, Inc. was founded in 2009 and is based in Irvine, California.  In fiscal Year 2023, Rivian reported $3.8 billion in revenues, based on the company’s most recent annual report.

As seen in the images below, the patent application, which was filed in June of 2022, relates to a container built into a spare tire holder that would enable the user to utilize the space inside the tire that is typically used exclusively to simply hold the spare tire. In the system seeking patent protection, this traditionally unused space would now provide storage through a “plurality of containers each comprising a respective container type” and electrical components that would allow the vehicle to identify the container type. The patent specification includes a variety of different applications for these containers including, but not limited to: fluid container configured to transfer water, coolant, lubricant or other fluids between the vehicle and the container; a storage container that could hold a first aid kit or toolbox; an identifier tag such as RFID as well as an auxiliary battery coupled to the vehicle’s electrical system. As you review the specification of the patent, you will see a number of potential applications to this technology and probably can come up with a few that you would like to see in your vehicle.

It is important to note that this is a pending patent application that has no guarantee of issuance and even if a patent is issued, the final claim language may look very different from the proposed claim language due to the existence of prior art that may require modifications to the proposed claim language.  That being said, we selected this application for the first of this series because it highlights the relative simplicity that often is tied to innovation. In this case, an engineer likely saw an open space that is rarely used for anything other than to cover the spare tire (for example, any Jeep Wrangler you see on the road is either displaying the tire or the tire cover with either JEEP or some personal message being displayed) and sought out to create a use for that empty space. The fundamental concept here is to make use of available space, a concept we all can relate to. It is a great example of finding way to improve things you interact with every day and finding ways to protect those improvements.

Have you come across any interesting patents you would like us to feature in future blogs? Please send us an email at media@foresightvaluation.com or call our office at (650) 561-3374.