The rumors were true! Tesla Motors has indeed opened up all its patents to open-source, and even symbolically demolished the Patent Wall, shown above.
Many companies hold their patents sacred, ready to jump down the throats of anyone even coming close to them. Think about the recent news coverage between Apple and Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone makers. Samsung has been accused of patent-infringement multiple times. Still, it’s hard to imagine how Apple and Samsung could really do things that much differently. After all, they make smartphones, and there’s only so much differentiation in such a market.
Actually, most markets are the same and, according to this morning’s post on Tesla Motors’ blog, “All Our Patent Are Belong To You*,” CEO Elon Musk recognizes that patents are less protection than an invitation to lawsuit roulette. Elon Musk goes on to say, “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.”
Still, what does this mean for Tesla Motors, electric vehicles, and the future of transportation? At first, Tesla Motors feared that a big manufacturer, such as Toyota Motor Corporation or General Motors, might use its considerable money and power to squash the fledgling Tesla Motors. As it turns out, none of them care enough to produce electric vehicles, much less steal patents. The hope is that turning Tesla Motors’ patents over as open-source, this will spur actual innovation, instead of maintaining simply the status quo. Will Tesla Motors bold move really do all Elon Musk thinks it will?
* – In case you’re wondering, “All our patent are belong to you” is a play on “All your base are belong to us” which, in turn was an Engrish translation of a Japanese-made video game, Zero Wing, in 1989. “All your base” become an internet phenomenon, whose definition is something on the order of signifying some kind of sinister takeover. Way to turn that around Tesla Motors!
Image © Tesla Motors