On the heels of news that Tesla Motors would be opening up its Supercharger patents in order to help speed up the electric car revolution, the company’s CEO Elon Musk has apparently decided what the hell, let’s just release all the patents.
Musk has made the announcement in a Tesla blog post entitled All Our Patent Are Belong To You (spectacular, by the way). To summarize Musk’s argument, the current patent system only serves to stifle innovation, the advancement of electric cars needs to accelerate, and Tesla can’t do it alone.
“Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology,” says Musk.
He goes on to state that Tesla will not sue anyone who, in good faith, uses their technology.
“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”
After explaining that the original purpose of Tesla’s patents were always defensive, as opposed to offensive, Musk makes it clear that this move isn’t going to hurt Tesla.
At best, the large automakers are producing electric cars with limited range in limited volume. Some produce no zero emission cars at all.
Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.
We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.
Nearly every reaction I can find is praising the move.
“This is a testimony to Tesla's commitment to its mission. People don't buy what you make they buy why you make it!! Patents are really shackles to progress and power of collective innovation. Thanks for taking a lead on this Tesla!,” says one commenter.
“This is beyond outstanding! Well done Tesla! This won't make as big a splash in the media as it deserves to and few people will understand how important this decision is. This is so opposite the offensive patent strategy executed by companies like Apple and I dare say Tesla holds far more useful and world changing proprietary tech,” says another.
On the contrary, I think this is going to be a very highly-publicized decision. The ‘good faith’ stipulation has yet to be hashed out, so Musk and Tesla could simply be choosing to ignore most cases of malfeasance.
But after such a public declaration, it would be hard to imagine Tesla initiating a patent lawsuit anytime soon.
Image via Tesla