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Elon Musk has always been a rebel. Now he’s an open source rebel.
While many in Silicon Valley have railed against patent wars in recent years, and some have lobbied Washington to reform patent law, Tesla’s taking an unprecedented step of opening all its electric car patents to outside use.
In a blog post on Thusday, Musk said Tesla has removed the patents decorating the wall of the company’s Palo Alto headquarters — a symbolic move to coincide with this announcement. Tesla’s billionaire cofounder and CEO writes that the company “will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our 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.
When I started out with my first company, Zip2, I 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.
We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.
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.