Skip to main content

Elon Musk of Tesla: Take this patent and use it

<p>The electric carmaker is making a radical shift toward open source, hoping to speed the development of electric cars.</p>

In announcing that he is making Tesla's patents available to the world this week, CEO Elon Musk started his blog this way:

"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."

Musk wants the information to be used to speed progress on electric cars because "it's impossible for Tesla to build them fast enough to address the carbon crisis." He continued:

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.

Too often these days, patents serve merely to stifle progress, Musk says, entrenching the positions of giant corporations and enriching lawyers, not the inventors.

That's why he filed for patents; Musk feared the big car manufacturers would copy Tesla's technology and use their massive muscle to put them out of business.

Since Tesla has succeeded and built its brand, Musk now wants the big car manufacturers to really get on board with electric cars. So far, their tiny electric car programs are resulting in cars with very limited range, and they are still too expensive — holding back the market.

They are pumping out 100 million cars a year and electric cars account for less than 1 percent of them, making conventional cars the real competitor for Tesla.

"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," Musk wrote. "We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform. ... We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla's position in this regard."

Tesla is also building out its nationwide charging network, currently available for free to Model S owners. Musk plans to open that network to other car owners.

High-end car makers in Germany, such as Mercedez and BMW (behind the i3 electric car) are showing great interest in working with Tesla.

Image by rmnoa357 via Shutterstock

More on this topic