Technology | Trademarks | Patents

Heart Aerospace – Building the Future of Flight

The dream of electric aircraft is closer than we might think, at least within regional aviation. The technology already exists, and patents on how it should be integrated are underway. Swedish company Heart Aerospace is on the runway to deliver the first planes by 2028. Considering the company was founded in 2018, it’s fair to say they are soaring ahead.

When Norway announced that their domestic flights must be electrified by 2040 at the latest, founders Anders and Klara Forsman sprang into action. In 2019, they started Heart Aerospace and are currently developing the ES-30, a passenger aircraft with hybrid engines for 30 people. The aircraft will be able to fly 200 km on electricity alone and 400 km with additional power from turbo generators powered by biofuel. With just 25 passengers, the range doubles to 800 km. By May 2023, the company has 200 employees of 28 nationalities, and the designs are ready. Next year, they build a prototype to begin testing.

“We have an order from United Airlines for 100 planes, Mesa Group 100, Air Canada 30. A number of other airlines have signed letters of intent. We’re laying the foundation for a brand new market for guilt-free flying on shorter distances,” says Niclas Uggla, Head of IP at Heart Aerospace.

Aviation Pioneer Uses Existing Technology

In the transition to a more fossil-free future, Heart Aerospace stands as a pioneer in aviation. The interest has been immediate. In 2020, Vinnova provided funds to create a certifiable battery pack. Bill Gates, through Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), is one of the many investors in the company.

“The issue isn’t the technology. It already exists within the automotive industry. It’s more about getting it certified for aviation and solving how it communicates with each other. The flight computer and signal system are at the heart of our portfolio of intangible assets, which includes an approved patent and a handful of applications. We also have a number of trademark registrations.”

Working with IP Advice, Financing, and Licensing

Niclas Uggla, with extensive experience in software-related inventions, explains that software is protected by copyright but can also be patented if it can demonstrate a technical effect.

Portrait of Niclas Uggla, Head of IP Heart Aerospace
Niclas Uggla, Head of IP Heart Aerospace

“We’ve started an IP council that includes management, marketing, and engineers. There’s an understanding in the company to invest time in this as our investors believe it’s important to protect the technology we develop. It also adds structure to the development process.”

The company also has someone dedicated to securing financing from authorities worldwide and choosing the right projects to participate in. Here too, IP work is crucial.

As they work with technology from around 40 suppliers, a significant part of Niclas Uggla’s work involves licensing and negotiating who owns the intangible values created in collaboration.

“This is a balancing act because we want to create a whole new market for regional electric flights. Therefore, we don’t want our IP portfolio to block others who also want to develop it. Suppliers own their IP but allow us access. We own the IP related to the integration of their technology into the aircraft.”

Cost-Effective with Unitary Patent

Niclas Uggla believes the EPO’s new Unitary Patent (UP) will be a good and cost-effective solution for them. However, their largest markets are outside the EU, which he feels is somewhat blocking development at the moment since aviation is not counted as public transport, and some countries ban regional flights regardless of the type of fuel used. The focus is instead on the USA, Asia, and island nations.

“We protect ourselves in our markets. Since the USA is so important, we use national applications there. At the same time, we submit PCT applications to keep options open for the rest of the world. We can’t predict the future. We’ll see where we stand when we reach the test flights.”

Niclas Uggla advises:

“We always start with PRV (Swedish Patent and Registration Office). It gives us a quick and sufficiently accurate opinion to decide what’s worth pursuing. We can submit applications and receive communications in English, which is crucial when dealing with our investors. If we receive a patent in Sweden, we take it. Then we let the EPO conduct a verification and review that we use as a basis for our PCT application. It’s a system I recommend everyone to follow.”

The interview was made in 2023. Photo: Heart Aerospace