Patents are often described as tools used to by inventors to ensure that the technology they have developed isn’t used by anyone without permission or consent. Some criticize them for stifling innovation since big companies and corporations can afford to keep their rivals involved in patent lawsuits for years, look no further than Apple vs Samsung. Its true that there are different dynamics in each market and perhaps the electric car market could do well without worrying about infringing on a competitor’s patent technology.
In a move that has been praised quite a lot, Tesla Motors today announced that its opening up all of its patents for use by anyone, as long as they’re used in good faith.
The announcement was made on Tesla’s official blog by CEO Elon Musk, who writes that this decision has been made “in the spirit of the open source movement,” and also to advance electric vehicle technology.
Tesla aims to revolutionize the auto industry by making sustainable transport, that doesn’t burn any hydrocarbons, affordable and within the reach of people willing to make the switch. Musk writes that the company acts in a manner that is against that goal by laying “intellectual property landmines,” hence the decision to offer up its proprietary technology to all.
Musk also describes why at first Tesla felt the need to patent its technology. The company believed that major auto manufacturers with infinitely deep pockets could copy its technology and use their vast sales, marketing and manufacturing resources to drive it out of business. One wouldn’t expect any different from rivals in a highly competitive market.
However contrary to Tesla’s belief most major manufacturers are only producing electric cars with limited range in very little volume, while some haven’t even launched one as yet. Tesla believes that by opening up its technology to other companies the world at large will benefit from a “rapidly-evolving technology platform.”
But this means that Tesla’s electric cars will have more competition. That’s absolutely right but Musk rightly points out that total electric car production is less than one percent of annual new car production around the globe. He says that the true competition is actually the “enormous flood” of gasoline powered cars that roll off assembly lines in the millions every single day.