Many may not be aware of this but back in 2014, Tesla Motors took a serious step forward in making knowledge widely available to communities when the tech company decided to release its patented technology in electric vehicles to the rest of the world.
According to Tesla, there were a wall of patents in the lobby of their Palo Alto headquarters back then, and it was upon them to have them removed in the spirit of the open source movement and for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.
The big move to open up its patents was welcomed by many and was seen as a good gesture to help others use their technology to create more innovative ideas that could save the world.
‘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.’ – said Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk.
The electric vehicle company also went ahead and made it clear to the public stating that it will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use their technology.
In a world that is so competitive, its only right for any young companies to patent their ideas as it protects them from those that only wish to steal their ideas. Doing so, will save your company from overly aggressive competitive companies.
However, at Tesla Motors, this is now seen as a deterrent to technological advancement which I believe other companies should borrow a leaf from as it only impedes others and becomes a stone wall to development.
Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. Laying intellectual property landmines only inhibits others.
‘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.
After Zip2, when I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever possible.’ – said Elon Musk.
According to Tesla Motors, one of the reasons they felt compelled to create patents on their technology was out of concern that other larger automotive companies would copy their tech and then use their massive power and marketing budgets to overwhelm them at the time.
‘We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.’ – said Elon Musk at the time.
However, since 2014, a huge spike in electric car production has been seen with other companies like Ford, BMW and Audi taking on the challenge to build Eco-friendly cars to meet today’s challenge with carbon emissions crisis.
According to Elon, ‘given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous.
Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.’
Tesla’s aim is to see other companies make use of its open patent technology and create a common benefit for all through rapid advancement of tech using their platform to make electric cars that would benefit the all world.
‘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.’
To the innovators and creators out there that didn’t know that Tesla’s patents were opened to the public and are open source, this is the time to build something amazing.
Author: Allan Bangirana
Allan Bangirana has a taste for all kinds of topics and usually writes about tech, entertainment, sports and community projects that make a difference in society.