Tesla waives all IP claims to spur electromobility

June 12, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
In a surprising move, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced to forego any claim resulting out of patents. In a blog post on the Tesla's web page, the pioneer of electric mobility said he would not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who uses the company's technology.

Musk hailed the open source movement as a means to foster technological and societal progress. "Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters", Musk wrote. "They have been removed, in the sprit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology". With the move Musk intends to foster and fuel the development of electric mobility, motivated by the aggravation of the carbon crisis and the huge disproportion in the production of electric and conventional cars. "Given the annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year an the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis," he wrote, adding that not only Tesla but other companies building electric vehicles would benefit from a rapidly evolving technology platform open to everyone who wants to use it.

At the same time, Musk criticised the way intellectual property is widely used - to stifle competition instead of using it to spur progress. "Maybe patents were good long ago", he writes, "but too often these days they serve merely to ... entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors."

He also expressed his belief that technological leadership is not defined by patents but by the ability of a company to attract talented engineers and announce to apply the open source philosophy to the company's patents.

Despite these announcements, it remains unclear if Tesla indeed will put its patents into the public domain or if the company simply holds out the prospect of not to prosecute competitors or third parties that utilise that intellectual property.

Related links and articles

Elon Musk's blog post on Tesla website

Newswatch: Tesla sketches out roadmap for the future?

Why Japan leads in electromobility - and why this could change soon