Elon Musk to world: All our patents belong to you

Elon Musk to world: All our patents belong to you

Summary: The billionaire co-founder and CEO of Tesla Motors announced the company will now open-source its electric vehicle patents.

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The lobby of Tesla Motors' Palo Alto headquarters underwent a bit of redecorating Thursday.

Telsa Motors CEO Elon Musk announced that the slew of patents which once lined the lobby wall were now gone — a move that he said open-sources the design patents for the company's electric vehicles.

In doing so, Musk said Tesla will not pursue patent litigation against anyone who uses the company's technology "in good faith" to further the industry.

Musk continued in the blog post:

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. 

Musk said Tesla initially went the patent route to stop big car companies from copying its technology for use in their own manufacturing practices, which Tesla feared would trump its own efforts. Musk conceeded that they were wrong in that assumption, as major automakers wound up producing electric vehicles with limited range far below Tesla's Model S, which has a maximum EPA-range of 265 miles:

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.

Musk added that open-sourcing the patents will strengthen the company's mission of attracting and motivating engineers. But it's inclear how Musk will feel if the likes of Ford or GM decide to make use of the patents to make their own Tesla-like electric vehicles.

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Topics: Emerging Tech, Patents

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69 comments
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  • Neat idea.

    Let's hope it gets used wisely and fairly by other companies. Defining good faith is never easy, so there may be fun down the line ...
    Heenan73
  • when will the axis of evil software open source the patents?

    that's what we need now!
    LlNUX Geek
    • He's doing this out of good faith and because he

      never wanted to take over the automobile industry. He simple wanted to prove that EVs could be done much better. Expecting any other company to follow suit with this is ridiculous. If a company wishes to protect their IP and not open source it, that's their call.
      thewags05
  • "anyone who uses the company's technology "in good faith" "

    Does anyone about remember an evil company which abused open source projects and JAVA to line its pocket with cash?

    - good luck with that "in good faith"
    Owl:Net
    • re:

      Don't be Google.
      Sir Name
    • J++, BSD tcp/ip stack

      Yes, Microsoft
      davidr69
    • yeah

      mickey$h1t
      GrabBoyd
      • No GrabBoyd, he clearly meant

        $Screwgle
        xuniL_z
        • Sorry, I meant....

          $crewgle. But $Screwgle works too.
          xuniL_z
    • Ambiguous

      You could be talking about Oracle, Google, Microsoft or a couple of other companies. Which one are you talking about?
      Sacr
  • Elon GETS IT

    He should be put in charge of copyright and patent reform!!
    jorabi
    • So naive! Nobody gets to be a billionaire by just giving things away,

      and this "free" release of patents is not what it seems.

      Tesla needs the competition, and the competition would bring more eyes and shoppers to Tesla vehicles.
      adornoe@...
      • "not what it seems"?

        Care to explain exactly HOW?

        It is possible that this is the beginning of a large ecosystem with open electric vehicle standards, which will probably benefit everyone in the long run, including Tesla. He may feel quite confident that he can compete with the large auto manufacturers, and he is probably right, given their track record.

        Musk is a visionary, unlike you apparently.
        Economister
        • I already explained why it's not what it seems, in a post below.

          Look it up.

          Furthermore, Musk has the money, and he has the people to do the work and research for him. Being a visionary is not the same as providing the dough.

          There are many millions of visionaries in the world, but their ideas and thinking won't take off, without the money to back them up. Musk has the money to get his and others' ideas going. But, he's not developing them himself. He's an investor, basically.

          Tesla is not a new idea, and it's just one company doing what many others have been doing and are doing. Tesla is just one of the latest to try to make EVs practical, but they're still not practical.

          Freeing up the IP is not so visionary either, and what Tesla is doing is just to try to get a bigger EV market going, in which Tesla hopes to become a much bigger player than they are now. It's as simple as a business decision to try to bring in more business, even if it's in the "longer run". Right now, Tesla is just trying to survive, but they stand a better chance with a much bigger EV market, which they hope to create by releasing their patents (which they should've done from the beginning).

          BTW, you don't know anything about me to make a determination about me being a visionary or not. You, on the other had, are just a cult-follower. Why is your nose so brown?
          adornoe@...
  • Some issues come to mind...

    First off, Tesla should have never had IP to hold onto, since, a lot of what they do was subsidized by government money, which means that, it's the people that should be the rightful owners of most or a lot of those patents. So, in a sense, they're not really opening up any patents that should have been open from the beginning.

    Then, Tesla needs for the competition to make their own cars, since, it adds to the number of EVs being made, and might in turn create more EV drivers. So, Tesla might be doing the IP releases, but only for their benefits. Tesla stands to benefit by creating a greater EV visibility, and that visibility, no matter how many vehicles are created, would mean that, Tesla would get more eyes looking at their vehicles.

    It's an attempt to gain by release of the patents. They're not saying it that way, but, what they've said sounds intended for good public relations. If they had a big market of competitors and that market was flooded with EVs, then for sure, Tesla would hold on to their patents.
    adornoe@...
    • Tesla

      So what if they benefit from releasing the patents? More power to them.

      And, by your reasoning, any car made by GM during the last few years should be given freely to any US citizen since the government pretty much owned them. Get real. Almost any large company works with government subsidies whether it be direct investment or tax breaks.
      boomchuck1
      • So, who the heck said anything about "free" cars?

        You're logic tells me that you must be thinking out of your rear.

        Also, subsidies are just money coming back to companies, which many or some of them paid in taxes to begin with. Tesla hasn't paid any meaningful amount of taxes that anyone can speak of. In fact, Tesla is still taking from the people, by way of carbon credits that government grants to companies that claim to be eco-friendly.

        None of what I said was disputed by you, and you just introduced a strawman argument to try to score points, but you ended up making a fool of yourself.
        adornoe@...
        • He's hoping to make electronic vehicles mainstream...

          For electronic vehicles to become a more common item, competitors will need to forsake producing cars with gasoline engines for electronic vehicles. For that to happen, there need to be machines reliable enough on the market. Until that happens his market is only a novelty. Tesla's vehicles are the only cars that realistically and relatively affordably approach that goal.

          Once that happens, the size of the market will increase, and so, theoretically, will Tesla's share of it. He's betting that since he's already ahead of the innovation curve that his enginneers can remain ahead of it and the Tesla reputation will continue to proceed him. Here competition will transform the market to a new standard. It's not about controlling the entire market, it's about creating a new, large, standardized market of which Tesla will still remain an integral part. I think it's that simple.
          watchingtheworldgoround
          • You're basically repeating what I said in an earlier post.

            Look it up.
            adornoe@...
    • For once...

      ...I mostly agree with you. Patents should never be granted for the fruits of taxpayer-funded research. If you want a monopoly for your killer idea, then talk to your banker.
      John L. Ries