SZE’s world record-breaking car is protected by a design patent

Széchenyi István University pays special attention to the protection of its intellectual property: the work of its researchers and students is protected by a series of registered patents, design patents and trademarks. This time, the shape of the three-time world champion car of the SZEnergy Team has been registered under a design patent, which legally guarantees that the winning bodywork of the student engineering team will remain inimitable in the future.

"Our aim is to protect and exploit the university's intellectual property. A particular prototype, invention or product can be very well entrenched in the field of law. If its content contains a significant inventive step, we will file a patent application or apply for a utility model patent for its structural design. We can protect the external appearance and form of the product with a design patent, and we register trademarks for our own brands, as well as for the logos and other image elements of our student teams", summarised Kornél Vági, the Chief Operating Officer of Higher Education and Industrial Cooperation Center and Uni-Inno Kft. a wholly owned subsidiary of the University.

The expert said that in recent years, they have been increasingly approached by the institution's staff to seek legal protection for their research and development. He added that they also seek to promote their own brands, which can even generate revenue for the university. This also includes the protection of the intellectual property of student racing teams: most recently, the shape of the successful car of the SZEnergy Team, which recently won a world record for the third time, was registered.

"We are protecting the external design, essentially the unique shape of the car's bodywork. To get the licence, we had to attach 3D models and a lot of photos of the car taken from every possible angle. These were approved by the jury and the process was successfully completed within three months of the application," he said.

Zoltán Pusztai and Kornél Vági with the world record-breaking vehicle of the SZEnergy Team, which has been registered as a design patent

Zoltán Pusztai and Kornél Vági with the world record-breaking vehicle of the SZEnergy Team, which has been registered as a design patent (Photo: Márton Horváth)

Thanks in part to the bodywork in question, the SZEnergy Team triumphed again this May as the defending champion in Europe's largest energy-efficient student vehicle competition, the Shell-Eco Marathon - for the third world record in a row. The champion vehicle made its debut in 2019 and after years of development, reached the top in 2022, where it has confidently held its position ever since. We asked Zoltán Pusztai, the former team leader at the time of the car's design and a member of the university's Centre for Automotive Research, about the secret behind the car's form.

"In the Shell-Eco Marathon, the aim is to complete the course with as little energy as possible, so the streamlined bodywork of the vehicles is key. When we designed our car for 2019, we took the popular drop shape as our starting point, an efficient, nature-inspired approach. Many cars have similar shapes, but the devil is in the details, we found many little things that allowed us to rise above the competition," says the young engineer.

Of course, a good body alone is not enough to win - it's what's underneath that counts. The SZEnergy Team finished sixth in 2019 with the same shape, and set a world record in 2022 (and twice since). The difference is a lot of development, fine-tuning, a lot of work by a lot of people," said Zoltán Pusztai.

"At the time, we tested the shape extensively in flow simulations, and then subjected the finished body to wind tunnel testing at Ulm University. As the results show, the shape has stood the test of time, which is why the team hasn't changed it in recent years. Of course, the time may come to modify it, but I don't think there's much that can be done to improve it. It has its advantages and disadvantages, for example, we have lower drag because of the wrapped wheels, but we can't adjust the wheel angle at the rear and we have to adapt the suspension. Still, I think it's a price worth paying if it ends up being a world record," concluded the former team manager.

H-9026 Győr, Egyetem tér 1. 


(Administration Building 103.)

0036/96/613-700, 0036/503-419

  am pm
Monday  10:00-12:00 12:30-14:00
Tuesday  10:00-12:00 12:30-14:00
Wednesday  10:00-12:00 12:30-14:00
Thursday  10:00-12:00 12:30-14:00
Friday  10:00-11:00 12:30-14:00