Tesla gives away its patents to advance electric vehicle industry (Wired UK)


Katie Collins


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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that the company is to offer
up its patented technology to others in order to benefit the wider
electric vehicle industry

In a blog post titled All Our Patents Are Belong To You (if you
are confused, this
may help
), Musk said it was “in the spirit of the open source
movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology”.

“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,” he
explains.


OnInnovation/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0


Tesla’s biggest selling car is the Model S sedan, with a range
of up to 265 miles per charge, for around $100,000 a pop. This
means that it’s not particularly affordable for the masses, and
only an estimated 35,000 units will be sold in 2014. Musk has
revealed that he wants to bring the cost of his cars down to around
$35,000, making it much more affordable. In order to do this, he’ll
need economies of scale — of production, of components, of skills
and processes. Opening up the company’s patent suite may well help
achieve this.

In a conference call, Musk said that Tesla would
start with “several hundred patents” for Tesla vehicles and its
rapid battery charging technology (supercharging) will be made
“open source”. However he said that he wasn’t sure about Tesla’s
battery pack technology as it was co-developed with Panasonic.

The only time Tesla might file a legal action would
be if someone was trying to “trick someone into thinking it’s our
car when it’s not”, he added. 

By giving away the secrets to Tesla’s technology, Musk hopes
that some of the producers of the almost 100 million new cars per
year might appropriate some of the technology and help “address the
carbon crisis”.

Musk hinted at this bold move over the weekend as the company
delivered the first five right-hand drive Model S vehicles to the
UK, but this blog post confirms the move.

He went on to describe how when he started his first company
Zip2, he thought “patents were a good thing and worked hard to
obtain them”. “And maybe they were good long ago, but too often
these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the
positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal
profession, rather than the actual inventors. After Zip2, when I
realised that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought
a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever
possible.”

Tesla created patents out of fear that larger automakers would
copy the startup’s technology and leverage their own mass
production capabilities to overwhelm it. “We couldn’t have been
more wrong,” he adds, saying that the “unfortunate reality” is that
electric car programmes (by which he means cars that don’t burn
hydrocarbons, which puts hybrids out of the picture) at major car
manufacturers are “small to non-existent” and constitute less
then one percent of total vehicle sales
.

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“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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13 June 2014 | 4:40 am – Source: wired.co.uk
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