General Motors and Ram have multi-function tailgates that can open in different ways, but Ford has yet to offer anything comparable on a production pickup truck. A recent patent filing indicates the Blue Oval may be cooking something up, however.

First spotted by CarBuzz, the filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) shows a trisected tailgate design. Essentially, the design is divided into three sections, with the middle section serving as a side-hinged door. The Ram 1500's Multifunction Tailgate works in a similar manner, but with a two-part split, and the door off to one side.

Ford F-Series trucks currently offer a fold-out step to allow easier access to the bed, but this switches things up a bit. Patent images show a step housed behind the tailgate, just above the hitch receiver. Two step designs are also integrated with the tailgate itself.

Ford trisected tailgate patent image

Ford trisected tailgate patent image

The patent filing also calls for electronic operation by means of dash-mounted buttons, or possibly the key fob. A remote-operated tailgate is already available on the Ford F-150, but this would also incorporate operation of the side-hinged tailgate door.

As with all automotive patent filings, there is no indication that Ford will offer the trisected tailgate in showrooms. But it would give Ford an answer to Ram's Multifunction Tailgate, the GMC Sierra's MultiPro tailgate, and the Chevrolet Silverado's MultiFlex tailgate.

For now, the F-150 does offer a built in ruler and storage spaces aimed at making its tailgate more useful as a workspace. Another Ford patent filing indicates the automaker also is looking at different ways to utilize the electric F-150 Lightning's massive frunk.