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.

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Commentaires

Stuart21@mac.com

Hi Elon,
A friend has just forwarded a link to your blog. I post below what I posted in The Engineer at the time of your announcement.

Stuart Saunders | 17 Jun 2014 6:20 pm

Good move, Elon. Lets hope other manufs respond in like manner.

If I were a billionaire, I could also do that with my IP. But I am not, and I hold some of the best EV IP - lightweight, low cost low friction EV / City Car transmissions. Great design freedom.

You could do worse than take a look.

Actually, not transmission; complete driveline. Motor, transmission, suspension, rear axle - ~ half the weight of your existing.

& friction & cost savings.

I believe you asked for a sub 30,000 EV, Elon?

Best wishes,
Stuart Saunders,
IPROAG.ORG
Intellectual Property Rightful Owners Action Group.

mthnbhat@gmail.com

Thank you and Bless you guys, today I may not be able to afford your vehicle but when I can I will certainly be the first in line for the tesla :) I wish you all the best!

sauravsinghshya...

Dear Elon Musk,
Your products and ideologies are just pure inspiration for someone like me who aspires to see the whole world run on sustainable renewable energy.
Thanking you for your kind hearted generosity for opening the use of your patents to catalise the development of a much needed energy revolution.
My best wishes to you for a fast and smooth materialization of all your ideas that will lead to making a better world.