Tesla's free-to-use patents are all about sustainability - and strength | The Driven
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Source: Tesla

A reminder from Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk late last week that the automaker’s electric car patents are open for anyone to use is not just timely, it is a critical nudge that the groundswell of electric cars being planned worldwide are a key part of the fix for climate change.

As extreme climate conditions hand out life-changing consequences around the world – a deadly “polar vortex” in the USA, while here in Australia there are simultaneous flood, drought and fire events on levels never before recorded – Musk went on a  Twitter spree to remind us all of Tesla’s reason for existence.

“Exciting to see all the new electric vehicles coming to market! We created Tesla to accelerate a sustainable future & it’s happening!” he wrote.

While making electric cars IS all about competition for Tesla, its not in the way of automakers: Musk encourages EV competition rather than attempting to stamp it out.

Those words were first written in 2014, when Musk first announced that Tesla’s patents would be open and free for anyone and any company to use.

Writing for Tesla’s own blog, the CEO and founder said, “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 saw in 2014 that if electric vehicles were to succeed in taking over from polluting ICE cars, the technology to make them had to be accessible.

Charge other companies to use Tesla’s patents would only stifle the process.

“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 wrote.

He did not mean that Tesla would abandon its patents – that would in effect allow others in the auto industry to in turn patent the ideas.

Instead, Tesla is simply exercising its right to make them freely available.

“Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology,” Musk wrote.

And in doing so, Musk also recognises the strength in openness – by sharing the tech, Tesla demonstrates the secret of true leadership, which is to give.

“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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