Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, has said that the company will remove the patents decorating the walls of its Silicon Valley headquarters. It will not sue anyone who in good faith wants their electric car technology.
According to the Tesla blog, “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.”
Tesla Motors wants to clear the path for others who want to create a compelling electric car, and patents hinder that goal. The company initially garnered patents because it feared a competitor would copy its ideas and overwhelm the company financially, but that’s been far from the reality, according to Musk.
“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.”
Musk hopes that other companies will begin to fill the electric car space, though few have tried since he co-founded Tesla Motors a decade ago and became CEO in 2008. Since then, Tesla has unveiled an electric sports car, the Tesla Roadster, a four door Model 5, and a larger Model X, which is scheduled to begin production in 2015. The company also sells its electric powertrain systems to Daimler for the Smart EV and to Mercedes and Toyota for the Rav4 EV.
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Image: Steve Jurvetson