The Corporate Law Group

Musk Goes Open Source

muskLamenting that there was a wall of patents in between customers and Tesla at its Palo Alto lobby, Elon Musk issued a press release that said, “All Our Patents Belong to You.” He said the patents had “been removed,” in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology, that Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport, and that, “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.” Musk went on to wax lyrical that he used to think that patents were a good thing but that too often these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors. Tesla pursued patents to keep the big auto makers out of their playground but they found that the big auto makers weren’t interested in eating Tesla’s lunch anytime soon. In fact, Musk said that since 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. Tesla’s 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. So he concluded that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform. It will take some time to clarify exactly what the details of Tesla’s open source initiative are, whether everything is dedicated to the public domain, and whether or not they ever intend to pursue litigation, but one thing is for certain: Musk is never boring.

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