People Stories

The Innovation Protector

August 14, 2017

If you want to know just how innovative Mercedes Benz Research & Development (MBRDNA) is, just ask the person who files our patent applications. At MBRDNA, that’s Ben Hitt, manager of the intellectual property and patent team.  

Hitt’s job allows him to take full advantage of his varied background in engineering and patent law. While attending Iowa State University, Hitt studied computer engineering then shifted over to engineering science with an emphasis in acoustics and patent law—a program Hitt pieced together after he discovered both engineering and patents fascinated him. After years as a patent researcher he became a patent agent before joining MBRDNA.   

Hitt finds his job rewarding because even though the processes behind patent law and engineering take commitment, time, and a bit of inspiration, the job is “continually rewarding.” Hitt isn’t an automotive engineer, but his background studying various technology fields helps him to understand the creations he’s trying to protect. 

Hitt is a witness to the behind-the-scenes, nitty-gritty innovation at MBRDNA (he’s no gossip, though: he only says that those innovations are “amazing”). “Every time an engineer or designer calls us, we get to learn about newly-created inventions from the minds of our colleagues.”

“Their passion is infectious.”  

At MBRDNA, the mission is to create technology for future vehicles and more broadly, the future connected experience. The company is a leader in the technology behind the self-driving car—and Hitt is excited for the added challenge of “unique legal/IP questions” that come from breaking new ground. MBRDNA is also breaking new ground in creating the hardware and software interfaces for our digital future. Arguably, the company is creating a new digital design language for future technologies.   

MBRDNA employees are quick to point out that while the company is associated with the Mercedes-Benz marque—the widely credited inventor of the car—MBRDNA is nonetheless a Silicon Valley technology company solely focused on designing and inventing the future.  

Aside from the feverish pace of innovation Hitt and his team get to witness, he occasionally points out areas free from prior patents, and therefore open to innovation. As such, he describes himself as a “consultant”—he explains the law while the designers and engineers seek out new territories to explore.

“I’m continually impressed by their knowledge and the thought they’ve put into tailoring solutions for our customers.” 

Hitt, who says he loves a bit of competition, notes that “more and more new technologies are converging with personal and commercial transportation.” Perhaps that makes this the most exciting time to work in this technology area—it may even be the most exciting time since Mercedes-Benz sparked the automobile industry in the first place. 

The competition is fierce and everyone is getting involved in creating the digital car, Hitt says. “Non-traditional and cash-rich players are joining the fray.” But that competition just makes MBRDNA an even more exciting place to work. Plus, as part of a well-connected IP management group that includes offices in Germany, China, India, and Japan, he points out that Daimler has quite a few patents to protect his engineers and designers.  

MBRDNA is a recognized technology leader with a strong Silicon Valley ethos, though employees sit in offices across North America – find out more about this and other divisions at