All Our Patent Are Belong To You

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.

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.

When I started out with my first company, Zip2, I thought patents were a good thing and worked hard to obtain them. And maybe they were good long ago, but 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. After Zip2, when I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever possible.

At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.

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. 

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.



Thanks Elon,

"Innovative partner of Tesla's success is the time to break from sleep."

TESLA is such an awesome company!
To those of people who are trying to correct the headline, its a pun.
Here is the link:

Tesla is such a wonderful company, for they know how to get things done!


Life is full of strange and encouraging 'coincidences'. Recently I have been seriously impacted by the work of DeAnna Murphy at Strengths Strategies. In particular the development of 'Confident Vulnerability'. This coincided with a revisit to Professor Clayton Christensen's work on 'Disruptive Innovation'. I mentioned these thoughts to a client who himself is successfully pioneering a new business model in the world of investment management.
We talked about these thoughts and I mentioned that DeAnna had instructed her lawyers to remove the IP to encourage the use and wider development of the 'Confident Vulnerability' concepts.
He then referred to Tesla's actions in this area and told me that his wife had just ordered him the latest model!
This led to a debate to whether or not his own actions were in the genre of Disruptive Innovation. This in turn resulted in, for us at least, the discovery of the concept of 'Disruptive Restoration' by returning to ancient values using 21st century technology and experience.
Everything is connected!